The lobby at the Petersen Events Center has been renamed the Thomas E. Richards Family lobby in honor of the late chair of the Board of Trustees whose family made a $5 million commitment to the Pitt men’s basketball program following his death.
The Richards family has long history with Pitt basketball. As a sophomore at Pitt in the 1970s, Tom Richards helped orchestrate one of the best seasons in program history as the Panthers went 25-4 overall with a school-record 22 game win streak and a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight.
His wife, Mary Beth (Dorogy), also played at Pitt, and their children, Lindsay and Jason, were members of the coaching staffs for the men’s and women’s program following their own playing careers. Lindsay was an assistant coach with the women’s program from 2010-18, while Jason was a member of the men’s staff from 2010-21.
The gift to the men’s basketball program will help lead expansion and renovation efforts to practice, training and sport performance facilities at the Petersen Events Center.
"This lobby, which sits at the heart of the action, is a fitting tribute for a man who put the University of Pittsburgh at the heart of his life," said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher in a news release.
“Tom inspired and impacted so many people, and that was especially true at Pitt. This extraordinary gift is yet another example.” said Heather Lyke, Pitt director of athletics.
In 1976, during his senior year at Pitt, Tom Richards earned the prestigious Blue-Gold Award — which celebrates student-athletes who epitomize excellence in academics, athletics, leadership and citizenship — and had his name etched into the Varsity Walk that connects the Cathedral of Learning to Heinz Memorial Chapel.
After earning a master’s degree in management from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Richards spent 45 years in the technology industry, including at Bell Atlantic, Ameritech, Clear Communications, and Quest Communications.
In 2009, he joined CDW and assumed the roles of president and chief executive officer two years later.
In 2011, Richards was elected to the University’s Board of Trustees. He served on several committees, including the Athletics Committee, Audit Committee and Governance and Nominating Committee. He also chaired the Risk and Compliance Committee for five years and was a member of the School of Information Sciences Board of Visitors. In 2019, Tom was voted by his peers as chair-elect of the board and assumed the role of chair in 2020 before being elected to the position again in 2021.
Richards died on Oct. 28, 2021 in Pittsburgh after a 14-month battle with cancer.