VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University has received a $1 million commitment from alumni Diane T. and Howard M. Long—NFL Hall of Famer and Fox Sports analyst—as part of the University’s $600 million Comprehensive Capital Campaign, “For the Greater Great®: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change.” In recognition of their gift, the University will name a new weight room in Villanova Stadium “The Howie Long Strength Training Center.” The new weight room is part of a building project, set to begin this month, which will create a new home for the Villanova’s top-ranked FCS Football program and a state-of-the-art athletic training center to benefit all of the University’s 24 varsity sports.
“We are proud members of the Villanova community and are grateful for all the ways Villanova positively impacted our lives,” said Howie and Diane Long. “It is important to us to express our gratitude with our gift and join others who strive to enrich the experiences of future generations of Villanova Football players, Villanova athletes and the Villanova family overall.”
The Villanova Stadium West End Zone Project will add on to the Jake Nevin Field House by creating a new facility that will serve as home to the Villanova Football program, while providing important amenities to meet the growing athletic performance demands for student-athletes across Villanova's 24 varsity sports. This facility will benefit student-athletes by supplying a state-of-the-art athletic training center within one centralized location. In addition to the “The Howie Long Strength Training Center” and other cross-functional spaces, the building will also include a new football locker room and coaches’ offices.
“Athletics are an important part of campus life and we want to provide our student-athletes with the best resources to help them grow academically and athletically,” said the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, Villanova University President. “I am incredibly grateful to the Longs for this generous gift, which will enable Villanova to create an environment that will allow our student-athletes to continue to train and compete at the highest levels.”
In addition to naming the weight room in recognition of the Long’s commitment, the Villanova Football program will also name its annual defensive player of the year award after Howie Long. The award will be known as “The Howie Long Defensive Player of the Year Award.”
“This gift will have an immediate, tangible and meaningful impact on our student-athletes, and we are honored to name this new space in recognition of the Longs’ philanthropy,” said Michael J. O’Neill, Senior Vice President for University Advancement. “Facilities are one of the top priorities in our campaign, and the Howie Long Strength Training Center will be an exciting step forward in providing an elite setting that reflects the caliber of our student-athletes.”
Long was a member of the Villanova football program from 1977-80, during which time he registered 313 tackles. He was named MVP of the Blue-Grey All-Star Classic as a senior. In 1995, Long had his #55 jersey retired by the University.
“Howie Long is an iconic figure in Villanova's athletic history,” said Vince Nicastro, Villanova University’s Director of Athletics. “He represented us as a fierce competitor on the field, and continues to distinguish himself as a classy and respected professional in many endeavors off the field. Howie and Diane's generosity once again illustrates their commitment to these virtues, and will impact generations of young student-athletes who will pursue the same.”
Howie Long has been a sports analyst for Fox Sports on its Emmy-award winning NFL on Fox Show since 1994, when he retired from professional football and began his television career. Prior to launching his career in television, Long played in the NFL for 13 years, from 1981 to 1993, as a defensive lineman for the Los Angeles (Oakland) Raiders. In 1983, he helped lead the Raiders to a Super Bowl victory and, in 2000, was inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame. During his 13 seasons in the NFL, Long was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection.
Long is also an owner and contributor to The Experts Network (TXN), an interactive digital sports media and content company formed by Long and five other sports analysts, which launched in 2011. The contributors offer knowledge, opinions, and personal stories primarily on sports topics. Long has also been featured in a number of national commercials and advertising campaigns for companies including Chevrolet, RadioShack, Nike, Hanes and Campbell's Soup. In the late 1990s he acted in several films, including "Broken Arrow" and "Firestorm."
Active in the community, Long was recognized by the Walter Camp Foundation in 2001 as “Man of the Year,” for his support of various charities including his local Central Virginia Boys & Girls Club where he served as honorary chairman, and the American Cancer Society’s Public Awareness Council. He is also national chairman emeritus for Athletics and Entertainers for Kids, which he founded, and chairman for Heart, a charity to aid battered women and children.
Long has served as an honorary spokesperson for the Augustinian Province Campaign, Embracing the Future. In 1994, the Longs made an impactful gift to Villanova University, establishing The Elizabeth Mullen Endowment in memory of his grandmother. The endowed fund supports a football scholarship for a student from an inner-city school in the Boston area.
Diane Long graduated from Villanova University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Classical Studies in 1982, and earned her JD from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law in 1986. She was admitted to the California Bar in 1987 and practiced law for several years after.
In 2000, Diane authored the book, “He’s Just My Dad!” which featured celebrated athletes in their most important role – dad. She currently is a member of the NFL Heads Up Football Advisory Committee and is a frequent speaker and panel participant for the NFL and NFL team events.
Diane is a longtime board member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia and was an Honorary Chair of the Capital Campaign to build a new Boys & Girls Club facility in Charlottesville. She is currently co-chair of the Milbank Society for the Central Virginia Clubs.
Diane and Howie are loving parents to three sons, all of whom have forged professional careers with the NFL: Chris is a defensive end with the St. Louis Rams; Kyle is a guard for the Chicago Bears; and Howie, Jr. works for the Oakland Raiders in front office operations.
Villanova launched the public phase of its campaign in Oct. 2013, and to date has raised $435 million toward its $600 million goal. The most ambitious in the University’s 173-year history, the Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change is aimed at cultivating academic innovation across its schools and colleges, investing in recruiting and retaining the finest teacher-scholars, dramatically enhancing financial aid and student opportunities, and continuing to build a premier living-learning environment on the University’s 260-acre campus. For more information on the Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change, visit www.forthegreatergreat.com.
About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit www.villanova.edu.