With just two weeks left in the All In campaign, a new $1-million gift is helping to bring to life the new home for William & Mary Athletics. The family of the late Hays T. Watkins LL.D. ’82 widely known throughout the community as a stalwart supporter and distinguished volunteer leader of the university, made the gift in his honor. 

This generous gift to the W&M Athletics Complex brings the total raised for the $55-million campaign to more than $53 million. 

Many members of the Watkins family, including Betty J. Watkins; H. Thomas “Tom” Watkins III ’74; Wendy R. Watkins; Catherine R. Watkins ’05; Caroline Watkins Mueller and Hays T. Watkins IV ’11, rallied together to recognize the enduring legacy of Hays and his commitment to enriching the lives of so many at the Alma Mater of the Nation.  

Hays T. Watkins LL.D. ’82 (Courtesy photo)

“We are truly grateful for the generosity from the Watkins family in helping our student-athletes reach their fullest potential. We are in the final stretch of the campaign and a gift of this magnitude in honor of Hays will bring our vision of a new home for athletics that much closer to reality,” said W&M Athletics Director Brian Mann. “This investment ensures that the Watkins family’s legacy will be a lasting part of the strong foundation we are building for athletics at the university.” 

Hays Watkins served as rector of the university from 1987 to 1993, and as a member of the Board of Visitors (BoV) for almost a decade. He was also a member and chairman of the W&M Business School Foundation board from 1976 to 1985. During his leadership on the BoV, he played a pivotal role in the success of the Campaign for the Fourth Century, which raised $150 million in support of W&M. 

Tom later followed in his father’s footsteps and served on the BoV from 2013 to 2021, including five years as vice rector. While in that role, he chaired the search committee for William & Mary’s 28th president, which brought Katherine Rowe to the university. Tom also served as chair of the W&M Foundation from 2011 to 2013. He co-chaired W&M’s For the Bold Chicago campaign committee and co-hosted the campaign launch event in the Windy City with his wife, Wendy, along with Michael P. Foradas ’78 and Valerie Foradas. 

Tom was a football player while at William & Mary, and Hays remained an avid W&M Football fan and attended many games over his lifetime. The Main Concourse of the Smith-McGlothlin Grandstand was named in honor of the Watkins family during the For the Bold campaign.

“What we as a family have appreciated about the All In campaign from the beginning is that it has truly reflected the university’s commitment to elevating the quality of the athletics experience to match the caliber of the academic experience,” said Tom Watkins. 

“My father always felt like William & Mary was his true home, even though he never attended the university. It is fitting then that we honor him by helping to create this new state-of-the-art home for our student-athletes and coaches,” added Tom. 

Hays served in the U.S. Army before embarking on a long career with variations of what would become the global transportation company CSX, according to his obituary. He started as a staff analyst for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) and rose through the ranks until finally becoming president and chief executive officer of C&O and Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in 1971 and then chairman in 1973. When the company became Chessie System Inc. in 1975, he became its chairman, president and CEO. When it merged with Seaboard Coast Line to become CSX Corp, he became president and co-CEO and finally CEO before retiring in 1991. For his work, he was inducted into the National Railroad Hall of Fame.

Members of the Watkins family are longtime supporters of the Fund for William & Mary and W&M Athletics. They fully endowed the Hays T. Watkins Professorship at the business school and supported the construction of Alan B. Miller Hall, where the third floor is now named the Watkins Faculty Center. Catherine Watkins also serves on the executive committee of the Annual Giving Board of Directors.

This new All In gift will bolster the university’s plans for a reimagined William & Mary Athletics Complex, which will significantly strengthen student-athlete development by transforming the places where athletes compete, train and study. The complex will also greatly enhance the game-day experience for the entire W&M community and advance excellence in all 23 varsity sports programs. 

Most recently, fans and athletes have seen how the new videoboard has transformed the game-day experience in Kaplan Arena, thanks to support from donors to the campaign. 

The William & Mary Athletics Complex encompasses Kaplan Arena, the new Mackesy Sports Performance Center adjacent to the arena, the Mackesy Tennis Center, Busch Field and the Tribe Field Hockey Center. 

“As we enter the final days of the All In campaign, I am overwhelmed by the loyalty and support of the Tribe family,” Mann said. “As anyone connected to William & Mary knows, almost nothing is impossible when we all pull together.”