Covellis donate $1M to YSU

Staff report


Sam and Caryn Covelli, whose company is the world’s single-largest franchisee of Panera Bread restaurants and employs more than 35,000 people, is donating $1 million to Youngstown State University.

In recognition of the gift, the athletics facilities across from Stambaugh Stadium on the west side of campus will be named the Covelli Sports Complex.

“It is with great pleasure that we accept this generous gift from a family that has a long tradition of giving back to the community,” YSU President Jim Tressel said. “We are honored to partner with the Covellis to continue the dramatic improvement to the Fifth Avenue gateway to the university and to enhance the campus learning experiences of our students. The affiliation with the Covelli family name, a name that speaks to excellence, is a blessing for YSU.”

“We are honored to be able to help the university in its mission to provide a first class athletic complex for their soccer, track and field, and softball programs,” said Covelli, who received an honorary degree at YSU’s Fall Commencement in December 2016.

“Under the leadership of President Tressel and Executive Director of Athletics Ron Strollo, I have no doubt that YSU’s best days are ahead of it both academically and athletically.

The funds will be used to enhance and maintain YSU athletics facilities west of Fifth Avenue across from Stambaugh Stadium, particularly Farmers National Bank Field and the YSU Softball Field.

The fields are now home to the YSU women’s soccer, men’s and women’s track and field, and women’s softball teams. Various local high school soccer and track-and-field programs, in addition to YSU intramurals, also use the facilities.

The Covelli Sports Complex will encompass the soccer and track-and-field facilities and the softball field, as well as a proposed new tennis center.

“The addition of this complex places YSU’s soccer, track-and-field, softball and tennis facilities among the best in the Horizon League,” said Ron Strollo, executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics.

“Having our teams play their games right here on campus, as opposed to off-campus venues, creates energy and excitement across the university, improving the college experience for all students.”

Mr. Covelli is owner/operator of Covelli Enterprises, headquartered in the Mahoning Valley. The company operates more than 300 Panera bread bakery-caf s, O’Charley’s restaurants and Dairy Queen stores in Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

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