University of Illinois men’s basketball alumnus Steve Lanter has donated $2.5 million to the Ubben Basketball Complex expansion and renovation project. The men’s basketball locker room and ready room at State Farm Center, as well as the new head men’s basketball coach’s office at Ubben, will be named for Lanter’s gift.
“I grew up as a kid from a small town in southern Illinois, who followed the Illini from childhood. I often think back on my decision to attend Illinois and know my life was forever enriched based on my student-athlete experiences at Illinois,” Lanter said.
“Playing for the state university, and for Lou Henson, catapulted my young business career. In the ensuing years after graduation, I started my delivery business, and went calling on banks all around the state of Illinois. All they wanted to do was talk about Illinois basketball. People still remember and tell Illinois stories about Eddie J (Johnson) hitting the game winner to beat Magic and Michigan State in 1979, when they were number one in the country and we were number three,” Lanter continued. “I’m a spiritual person, and our loving God has been great to me. Going to Illinois was a gift and I believe where much is given, much is expected. It’s time for me to give back. If others have a heart for giving, I want to encourage other student-athlete alumni to reflect on their time at Illinois and also give back with their time, talent or treasure.”
Lanter is the CEO and founder of Lanter Delivery Systems in St. Louis, Mo. A former letterwinner from 1977-80, Lanter was part of Coach Lou Henson’s second recruiting class. In 2018, Lanter and teammate Larry Lubin created a fund to provide scholarships for Illinois basketball players wishing to return to the University to complete their undergraduate degrees.
“We are incredibly grateful to Steve for his lifelong dedication to Illinois Basketball,” Director of Athletics Josh Whitman said. “He and his family have long appreciated the life-changing experience he received as a Fighting Illini. By creating the scholarship in honor of Lou and Mary Henson and now providing this generous gift to improve Ubben, he is living the values of the Illinois Family. His support is enhancing the opportunity for future generations of Fighting Illini and ensuring the future of Illinois Basketball as one of the elite programs in the country.”
The Ubben renovation and expansion will add approximately 40,000 square feet to the existing structure, while remodeling large portions of the existing building. New coaches’ office spaces and a grand entry lobby are included in the project. Two new half courts will be added to both the women’s and men’s current gym space, giving the two programs additional space to work on development while not disrupting full-court action. The project will feature a new strength and conditioning addition, significantly increase the size of the locker rooms and players lounges and include a state-of-the-art sports medicine area.
“We talk about ‘Illini for Life’, and Steve Lanter embodies that philosophy,” head men’s basketball coach Brad Underwood said. “He wore the jersey, and his commitment to the program has continued long past his playing days. The University of Illinois and Illini Basketball mean a great deal to him, and through his generosity, he is investing in future Fighting Illini and allowing us to provide a world-class experience.”
“With the Ubben renovation project now underway, we continue to be truly humbled by the outpouring of support from Illini fans, donors and alumni that have made all of this possible,” head women’s basketball coach Nancy Fahey said. “And to see this generous gift come from a former Illini student-athlete, a product of this very environment that we are working to transform into the best in the nation, fills me with so much pride. Thank you to Steve, and the entire Lanter family, for your incredible support of the Orange and Blue.”
To date, Illinois has secured $22 million in commitments for the Ubben Basketball Complex renovation and expansion toward the $40 million project.
The gift is part of the DIA’s $300 million fundraising goal for “With Illinois,” the $2.25 billion University-wide fundraising campaign.