As part of Penn Athletics’ Game Onward Campaign, Penn launched the Penn Track & Field and Cross Country Campaign for Excellence on Wednesday. This initiative seeks to raise $44 million and has been spearheaded by a leadership gift from Wharton and Penn track and field alumni David and Jane Ott.
The Jane and David Ott Center for Track & Field, which is set to be built by 2022, will be the focal point of the campaign. Fully constructed, the facility will be 63,000 square feet and will include a six-lane, 200-meter banked track, an eight-lane sprint track, areas designated for field events, and seating room for fans.
Once completed, the Center will be the only collegiate indoor facility of its kind in the greater Philadelphia area.
"The Campaign for Excellence truly signals the start of a new era for track & field at Penn that builds on a legacy of achievement by our athletes dating back to the late 19th century," Penn President Amy Gutmann wrote in a Penn Athletics statement. "Penn has won three dozen Heptagonal team championships and has had eight individual national champions. Thirty-three Penn athletes have medaled at the Olympics, with 16 winning gold. We are profoundly grateful to David and Jane Ott for their extraordinary commitment to Penn Athletics and for this foundational gift, which we anticipate will inspire others to participate in the Campaign. The Ott Center promises to be a significant addition to our Athletics facilities—a state-of-the-art space that will impact the future of sports at Penn."
David and Jane Ott graduated from Wharton in 1985 and 1987, respectively.
"We met while on the track & field team at Penn, and attribute much of the good fortune we have had since to the qualities we developed and the lessons we learned during practices and competitions," the pair wrote. "We hope our gift will further enable Penn student-athletes to have the same rewarding experiences as we did."
By adding $2 million to the annual fund, $7 million to the varsity track and field endowment, and $35 million to the capital projects fund, the Campaign for Excellence hopes to establish the track and field program as self-sustaining.
Jane Ott stressed that the campaign and the Center will promote development for Penn’s athletes.
"Track & Field is the greatest sport in the world, with a global presence, broad-based participation, and an inspirational level of diversity among athletes,” she wrote. "Men and women frequently compete on the same stage, in front of the same crowds. Dave and I are honored to use this sport as a platform to provide the opportunity for Penn student-athletes to continue to develop their athletic, interpersonal, and leadership skills."
Penn track coach Steve Dolan is enthusiastic about the Center’s future impact.
"It will immeasurably enhance Penn's intercollegiate track & field program by providing a modern venue for year-round training and meets," he wrote. "What's more, the Ott Center will serve as the year-round home for the cross-country and track & field teams, and an indoor warm-up area for the Penn Relays."