Former Pitt star and current Los Angeles Rams luminary Aaron Donald made history on Friday with a seven-figure monetary contribution to the Pitt Football Championship Fund, according to a release from the university. The Pitt football program utilizes the fund for facility improvements, technological upgrades, student-athlete development and recruiting.
The exact amount of Donald’s donation was not revealed, but it was described as the largest donation ever made to the program by a Pitt football letterman. The 27-year-old defensive lineman also became the youngest seven-figure donor in Pitt’s history.
As a result of Donald’s generous act, Pitt announced plans to name the ground floor of the Duratz Athletic Complex the Aaron Donald Football Performance Center. The Duratz Athletic Complex is part of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side, and the portion of the building that will bear Donald’s name houses a weight room still utilized by the Rams standout during the offseason.
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi expressed his admiration for Donald and his gratitude for his contribution in a statement.
”Aaron Donald is a legendary football player, but he’s also a legendary human being,” Narduzzi said. “Aaron is the toast of Los Angeles, but he’s still a Pitt and Penn Hills guy at heart. He’s humble, hardworking and has never forgotten where he came from. This incredible gift to Pitt is a reflection of that."
”On behalf of our entire program, I want to thank Aaron for his generous investment in the future of Pitt football," Narduzzi continued. "We will work hard every day as coaches and players to make you proud, Aaron.”
As Narduzzi alluded to, Donald is a native of Penn Hills just east of Pittsburgh, and he opted to stay home and make a name for himself at Pitt. Between 2010 and 2013, Donald amassed 181 tackles, including 66 tackles for a loss and 29.5 sacks. His sack total is the fourth-highest in program history, and during his collegiate career, he earned a litany of accolades. Most notably, Donald was named a unanimous All-American and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, his final year at Pitt.
In 2014, the defensive lineman was selected in the first round of the NFL draft, and he has thrived since ascending to the professional ranks. After earning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in his first season, Donald was named a first-team All-Pro each year from 2015 to 2018. He was also named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018 and led the league with 20.5 sacks last year.
Donald’s prolific production earned him a new contract worth $135 million over six years in 2018. The contract saw him briefly become the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, enabling him to make such a sizable contribution to his alma mater.
The NFL star also issued a statement regarding his financial commitment to Pitt.
”It was a dream come true to play for the University of Pittsburgh. My experience as a Panther is something that influences my life every day, and I want to pay that forward. I believe in what Coach Narduzzi is building at Pitt, and this was an opportunity for me to make a difference for our current and future players. Pitt will always be my school, and I’m honored to be able to support the blue and gold.”