By ED PUSKAS
Sam Covelli wore an impressive smile on Saturday, particularly for a guy who had just parted with $10 million.
But the owner of Covelli Enterprises did it willingly and with no reservations, presenting Ohio State with the largest single gift in the university’s athletic department on Saturday.
Covelli, of Warren, his wife Caryn and their three children – Albert, Danielle and Candace — were recognized for the donation at halftime of the Buckeyes’ 26-21 victory over rival Michigan on Saturday. Albert is an OSU graduate who helps run his father’s Columbus-area Panera Bread restaurants.
Ohio State president Dr. Gordon Gee appeared with the Covelli family near the “block O” on the 50-yard line at Ohio Stadium. Later, the family watched the second half as guests in the loge of Gene Smith, the university’s athletic director.
“It was great,” Sam Covelli said. “My kids — my family — they really enjoyed it.”
Covelli’s gift will be used for an arena to replace the historic, but aging and outdated St. John Arena on the Ohio State campus. The new 4,000-seat Covelli Arena is expected to host seven Buckeyes sports teams, including women’s volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling.
“We’re glad that we’re able to give the donation to the university,” Covelli said. “But the biggest thing is that it’s going to be great for a lot of student-athletes. There’s seven Olympic sports that are going in that building and there’s going to be thousands of kids going to camps, many of them from our area in Warren.”