Texas Medical Center — Houston, Texas   —   TMC NEWS
  Vol. 24, No. 12  Previous Table of Contents Home  Next July 1, 2002 

UT-Austin Names New Sports Arena in Honor of Dr. Denton A. Cooley

The University of Texas Board of Regents has voted to name the university’s $11.5 million basketball practice arena on its Austin campus in honor of Denton Cooley, M.D., president and surgeon in chief at the Texas Heart Institute and chief of cardiovascular surgery at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital.

Cooley, who played varsity basketball three years for the Longhorns and won three letters in the sport, still maintains the same slim physique he sported in 1939, the year he helped lead the team to both the Southwest Conference championship and the first National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.

Before heading off to college, Cooley earned all-city basketball honors at San Jacinto High School in Houston. The Texas High School Hall of Fame later inducted him as the athlete best representative of the 1930s.

Cooley graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with highest honors from UT-Austin in 1941 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1944, graduating with honors and Alpha Omega Alpha.

UT President Larry Faulkner said Cooley "is the epitome of the student athlete" and "a legendary figure in the state of Texas."

The practice arena is the third phase of a $51 million renovation of the university’s Erwin Center. The arena, to be built adjacent to the center, will be used by both the UT men and women’s basketball teams. Separate, full-sized basketball courts will be available for varsity men and women’s teams with dressing rooms and conference areas. At least half the cost of the arena will be paid for by alumni donations.

"I am greatly honored and pleased to be recognized in this manner," Cooley said. "I enjoyed the associations and competition provided by playing on the varsity team for my beloved alma mater."

Cooley was inducted into the Longhorn Hall of Honor for varsity athletics in 1967 and was later named a UT Distinguished Alumnus. In 1980, he received the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s highest honor, the Theodore Roosevelt Award, bestowed annually to a varsity athlete who has received national recognition in his profession. Former Presidents Eisenhower and Bush are past recipients of the award.

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