How did each Conference USA football stadium get its name? What are the stories behind the names to college football’s shrines?
From benefactors to memorials, each Conference USA football stadium has its own unique flavor and history.
So what’s in a name?
Their names are as much a part of the sport as the players that wear the school colors or the coaches that prowl the sidelines – with the exception of those places named after nicknames or schools. They’re integral fragments of your autumn vernacular, yet you often know not who they are. You’ve spent countless hours and memorable moments in their houses, but you’d struggle to identify them in a photo.
They are the names behind the football stadium names. The men, women and corporations, who’ve been honored for their unwavering service, dedication and generosity to institutions of higher learning.
Those surnames on the outside facing of your favorite Conference USA football stadiums and the face of your Saturday afternoon ticket stubs are real people. Real special—and philanthropic—people in most instances. Their backgrounds and paths to immortality are as diverse as the architecture of the arenas themselves. Their drive for success and love for a school are the ties that bind this unique collection of individuals.
Charlotte – McColl–Richardson Field at Jerry Richardson Stadium
Named for … Hugh McColl and Jerry Richardson
Who are they? McColl and Richardson were instrumental benefactors who’ve helped get the 49er program off the ground. McColl is a local banker and former Chairman and CEO of Bank of America. Richardson, who donated $10 million toward the stadium, played professionally with the Baltimore Colts before a prolific business career that led to the 1993 purchase of the Carolina Panthers.
Louisiana Tech – Joe Aillet Stadium
Named for … Joe Aillet
Who was he? In 27 seasons at the helm of the football program, Aillet led the school to a Bulldog-best 152 wins and 12 conference titles. He was honored with induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989.
Marshall – Joan C. Edwards Stadium
Named for … Joan C. Edwards
Who was she? Edwards was a New Orleans jazz singer and the wife of mattress magnate James F. Edwards. The Edwards’ were consistently generous to Marshall, donating upwards of $65 million to the university during their lives.
Middle Tennessee – Floyd Stadium
Named for … Johnny “Red” Floyd
Who was he? In two separate stints—1917 and 1935-1938—Floyd coached the Blue Raiders to a 30-8-1 record and a pair of perfect seasons.
North Texas – Apogee Stadium
Named for … Apogee
Who are they? Apogee is an Austin-based provider of on-campus residential networks. The company secured naming rights to the new facility in 2011, forking over $20 million in a deal that spans 20 years.
Old Dominion – S.B. Ballard Stadium at Foreman Field
Named for … A.H. Foreman and Stephen and B.J. Ballard
Who were they? Foreman was a prominent Norfolk attorney in the 1930s and one of the founders of the Norfolk Division of William & Mary, which would later become ODU. The Ballards are two of the principals of SB Construction, the firm responsible for many of the university’s on-campus facilities, including the Monarchs’ home field.
Southern Miss – Carlisle-Faulkner Field at M.M. Roberts Stadium
Named for … Gene and Karen Carlisle, L.E. Faulkner and Dr. M.M. Roberts
Who were they? Faulkner was a local businessman who provided the materials and equipment necessary to build the stadium in 1932. As chairman of the Central Relief Committee he gathered the unemployed men of the Hattiesburg area to do the bulk of the work so that the field was completed at no cost to the university. Dr. Roberts was a former member of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, who has been credited with the development of USM as a comprehensive university. The Carlisles, prolific operators of Wendy’s franchises, donated the school’s first artificial turf in 2004.
WKU – Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium
Named for … Houchens Industries and L.T. Smith
Who are they? A longtime supporter of the university, Houchens made a $5 million donation to support the expansion and renovation of the Topper football stadium. Houchens, headquartered in Bowling Green, began as a grocer a century ago. Smith coached WKU for two seasons in 1920 and 1921.