Two long-time super fans of Texas women’s basketball have pledged $20 million — the largest ever one-time future gift to the athletic department — to help fund a center focused on brain and behavioral health.
The estate gift was made by Julia Hickman and Cecil Reynolds, two local psychologists and members of the Longhorn Foundation. The athletic department announced the gift Thursday.
Hickman is recognizable to many Longhorns fans because she’s the woman who holds up a “Believe” sign at every game. The couple goes to every home and away game and spent part of their summer traveling with the team when the Longhorns played exhibitions in Italy.
The gift will set up the Cecil Reynolds and Julia Hickman Center for Student-Athlete Brain & Behavioral Health. The athletic department will partner with Dell Medical School and other schools within the university to implement the program.
The way the estate gift is written, the athletic department will not receive the money until both Hickman and Reynolds have passed. The center will not be built until then.
The couple already has established an endowed scholarship to help with costs for athletes who have exhausted their eligibility but want to continue graduate studies at UT.
When the center is built, it will focus on helping student athletes deal with conditions such as concussions, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and eating disorders.
“We want them to be prepared for when they leave the university,” Reynolds said in a statement. “When they finish their eligibility, we want them to be prepared, not just academically but emotionally and behaviorally. That will take them a long way in life.”
According to the athletic department, the center will “provide administrative oversight, structure and support to implement an integrated, athlete-centered model of student-athlete mental/behavioral health services that emphasizes education, prevention, assessment, treatment and self-care for current and future Texas student-athletes. Additionally, the center will work to integrate clinical services and prioritize participation in research initiatives that focus on athlete brain and behavioral health interventions and outcomes. “
Other partners in the new center will be UT’s department of kinesiology and health education, the UT Institute for Neuroscience, College of Natural Sciences, Hicks School of Social Work, Cockrell School of Engineering and St. David’s HealthCare.