University of Louisville supporters have responded to the $3 million Thorntons Matching Gift Campaign by successfully contributing the full, final amount needed to completely fund the Thorntons Academic Center of Excellence.

Since announcing the campaign on Aug. 19, more than 4,736 Cardinal supporters contributed to the project and the $3 million raised in just over three months is one of the most successful fundraising campaigns in the history of the Cardinals’ athletic department.

“I’ve said for a long time that the Thorntons Academic Center of Excellence is the missing piece of our department. Thanks to Matt Thornton and his team, and because of the best fans in the country, we are able to finish what will be the very best academic facility for student-athletes in the nation,” said Tom Jurich, Vice President and Director of Athletics. “We are so fortunate to have the support of a great local business like Thorntons, and once again, our fans stepped up and delivered when we needed them the most. We are so incredibly thankful and grateful to every single person that made this possible.”

The state-of-the-art Thorntons Academic Center of Excellence will be located beneath the Norton Terrace at the South end of the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The center will house the academic operations and provide a central location for all student-athletes and academic staff.

The 40,000 square foot center will feature tutorial areas, computer laboratories, and office and classroom space that will serve over 750 student-athletes across the Cardinals’ 23 sports on a daily basis. Construction on the $14.5 million facility is set to begin in the spring of 2015 with a completion goal of fall of 2016.

“Thanks to our strong partnership with the University of Louisville and our community for making this Academic Center of Excellence a reality.” said Matt Thornton, CEO of Thorntons Inc. “Thorntons is thrilled we could support our hometown and create a brighter future for U of L and the community.”

“The Thorntons team, guests, community and the incredible University of Louisville staff helped to make this matching grant program something more than we ever imagined,” said Tony Harris, President, Thorntons Inc. “We were so pleased to be aligned with a University that will build the foundation for academics for today’s youth and the future.”

“This truly was a comprehensive campaign,” said Mark Jurich, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Development. “From day one, we wanted to create a campaign that gave all of our fans the chance to be part of something really special.  From giving 50 cents or $1 at a Thorntons store, to giving above annual Cardinal Athletic Fund donation levels, we can’t say thank you enough to all of the fans that contributed. We already knew we had the most supportive fan base in the country and this campaign proves it.”

Completion of the Academic Center of Excellence could not have been accomplished without the support of Maker’s Mark and the law firm Stites & Harbison PLLC. Proceeds from the sales of four commemorative Maker’s Mark bottles raised more than $3 million, while Stites and Harbison committed to give $2 million to the project.

Questions about the Cardinal Athletic Fund, or about the Thorntons Academic Center of Excellence, may be directed to Jonathan Smith, UofL Executive Director of Development, at 502-852-2472 or by email at


Academic Center Campaign by the numbers:

  • 4082 fans contributed a total of $8,400.05 at 42 Louisville-area Thorntons locations.
  • Over 500 Cardinal Athletic Fund members exceeded their annual gift and contributed to this campaign
  • 62 donors gave more than $10,000
  • Over 100 people gave $100 or more to become new members of the Cardinal Athletic Fund


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