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Villanova Mum on Renaming Pavilion du Pont Promised to Fund But Didn’t

February 3, 1996 GMT

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) _ If Villanova University decides to take the name of accused murderer John du Pont off its basketball arena, the school would have some justification.

Du Pont promised Villanova $5 million when it named the duPont Pavilion after him, but the millionaire paid no more than one-fifth of that money, according to former university officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

``Once general knowledge of the fact that he hadn’t paid off the money came out, they (alumni and students) would be upset,″ one source said.

Du Pont, accused of killing Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz at his sprawling suburban Philadelphia estate on Jan. 25, only gave the university $500,000 to $1 million, according to the sources.

The balance he promised in 1985 never came after the university dropped its wrestling program, which du Pont established and coached.

``Du Pont got upset, walked out and never paid off the rest of the money,″ one source said.

University spokeswoman Barbara Clement refused to comment on du Pont’s gifts to the school.

The shooting prompted a two-day standoff at du Pont’s 800-acre Newtown Square estate, which includes a world-class training center for his wrestling team, Foxcatcher. Du Pont is in a Delaware County jail awaiting a preliminary hearing next week.

One source said the university would be in a difficult position if officials want to remove du Pont’s name from the John Eleuthere duPont Pavilion.

``If they take his name off the building, they’re never going to get the money,″ the source said. ``On the other hand, they’re probably never going to get the money now, anyway.″

The source added, ``It was a deal that was controversial when they made it. Now it’s coming back to haunt them.″

The issue of whether du Pont’s name should remain on the building has not been a hot topic on campus, according to the editors of the student newspaper, the Villanovan.

``There hasn’t been a huge uproar,″ editor Jonathan Klick said. ``A lot of them are questioning what’s going to happen, but there’s no strong opinion either way among the students.″

Added Klick’s colleague, Joe Patterson, ``I think the vast majority (of students) don’t really care. I think the majority who have an opinion would prefer to see it changed.″

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The 6,500-seat duPont Pavilion opened in February 1986. Along with the basketball court, the building contains a 200-meter indoor track, tennis courts and batting cages.

The $15 million arena was already set for construction when du Pont made the $5 million pledge, which came as the university was naming its new $1.5 million swimming center after him.

The relationship between the university and the millionaire became strained after problems arose with the wrestling program.

``The NCAA came in after 1985 and said, `We have a potential problem. Your head coach is flying recruits in from all over the country on his private plane and putting them up in hotels. There’s no controls over this program by the institution,‴ one source said.

``John was someone who just didn’t give you money and stayed clear,″ another source said. ``He was always involved.″

Shortly after that, the program was disbanded. The NCAA never made any charges against the university, although one of the wrestling team’s former coaches, Andre Metzger, sued du Pont, claiming he was let go after he refused du Pont’s sexual advances. The case was settled out of court, although du Pont strenuously denied the allegation.

Du Pont later built a state-of-the-art training facility on the grounds of his estate and started a wrestling team that lured some of the country’s best athletes, including Schultz, a gold medalist in the 1984 Olympics.

The university tried to get du Pont to honor his pledge, sources said, without success.

The sources said many alumni felt the basketball arena should have been named for someone else, perhaps longtime basketball coach Al Severance.