KINGSTON, R.I. — March 9, 2021 — The University of Rhode Island announced a gift of $3 million to URI Athletics, from Stefan Soloviev and his family. The gift is the largest in an $8 million project to dramatically improve basketball training facilities for the men’s and women’s teams. Subject to approval of the URI Board of Trustees, the West Gymnasium of the Tootell Athletic Complex will be named the Soloviev Family Basketball Practice Facility.
“The Soloviev family’s gift will propel our plans to enhance facilities for our student-athletes and support the continued development of our athletic programs,” said David M. Dooley, president of URI. “URI Athletics is a key strategic initiative for Big Ideas. Bold Plans. The Campaign for the University of Rhode Island.”
Soloviev, the CEO of Crossroads Agriculture and chairman of the Solow Building Company, attended URI in the 1990s. The new commitment comes as a result of his interest in raising the University’s profile through top-tier athletics. Soloviev will also be involved in helping to promote artists from the community by providing a home at the facility for locally sourced sports-related artwork.
“I want to thank Stefan for his incredibly generous gift,” said Thorr Bjorn, director of Athletics. “This significant investment is the result of a plan that aligns with having two premiere basketball programs, not just in the Atlantic 10, but in the country. David Cox and Tammi Reiss are bringing high-character, highly talented players to Rhode Island. Their leadership and vision combined with this type of investment are what is necessary for the sustained success of our programs.”
“Supporting Thorr’s vision of building a nationally competitive basketball program is something I’m extremely passionate about and committed to,” said Soloviev. “Achieving this will benefit the student-athletes, athletic program, and the University as a whole. The University of Rhode Island changed my life and made me the person I am today. I am very grateful that I am able to help move the University forward.”
The project will transform URI’s West Gymnasium into a practice facility that provides student-athletes 24 hour access to training and technology to enhance their experience and refine their craft. Since construction of the Thomas M. Ryan Center, the men’s and women’s teams have had to coordinate court practice times with a robust schedule of concerts, community events, and other activities in the same space. Access to a dedicated practice facility will give the teams more court time and a significant recruiting advantage.
“I speak for everyone in our program in thanking Stefan and his family for this generous gift to the University of Rhode Island and Rams Basketball,” said Men’s Basketball Head Coach David Cox. “This facility is a difference-maker in our program and for the future of Rhode Island basketball.”
“We can’t thank Stefan and his family enough for this support,” said Women’s Basketball Head Coach Tammi Reiss. “This will give us the opportunity to elevate our basketball programs and give all of our alumni and friends something to be proud of.”
The women’s basketball team is enjoying a breakout season under Coach Reiss. They have remained near the top of the conference standings late in the season and earned a double-bye in the 2021 Atlantic 10 Championship tournament.
The men’s team has been on one of the greatest runs in program history, with back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2017 and 2018 and wins each year to advance to the second round. The program also won its first-ever regular season Atlantic 10 Championship in 2018.
Soloviev has built Crossroads Agriculture into one of the country’s largest privately held agribusinesses. Crossroads Agriculture land holdings are based in Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico, making Soloviev one of the 100 largest landowners in the U.S. Soloviev has worked in varying capacities for the Solow Building Company and recently became the chairman after the passing of his father Sheldon Solow this past November.