AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Massachusetts Athletics at UMass Amherst announced a $2 million gift to renovate the current training facility for the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams. 

The money was gifted from Dr. Jim and Ellen Hunt, graduates in ’77, which will go toward the Athletics Department’s $8 million project to create an indoor performance center for the cross country and track and field programs.

Dr. Jim Hunt’s records still stand 46 years later in the 800-meter, half mile and 4×800-meter. He attended Columbia University’s School of Dental and Oral Surgery and in 1984 returned to Amherst to open a private practice.

Ellen Hunt received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UMass in 1977 and 1993 and has had a career in nursing for over 35 years.   

The project will consist of a track-specific surface and offer space for jumping and throwing events, along with a sprint straight-away on the lower lever. The second level will feature a practice track along with space for non-impact training.

The athletic department has set June 30th to reach a $5 million goal raised through private philanthropy. For more information visit

“The former Cage has tremendous memories for me, and I recall congregating with teammates before and after practice in the ancient locker room and around the facility. It was a historic time for cross country and track and field, as I had the honor of competing with six different All-Americans at UMass,” said Dr. Hunt. “Ellen and I are pleased to make this gift, knowing it will have a tremendous influence on the experiences and lives of future student-athletes.”  

UMass Amherst Chancellor Subbaswamy said, “Jim and Ellen Hunt have been deeply engaged participants in university life for decades and very generous UMass supporters. They are committed to providing a successful and rewarding experience for our student-athletes, and we are extraordinarily grateful for this immensely impactful gift.” 

“I want to applaud Jim and Ellen for this gift to support our cross country and track and field programs,” said Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford.  “Jim and Ellen have invested in UMass every year since graduation and over time have increased their level of involvement and financial commitment to the university. In addition, they have served on a number of leadership boards and committees in support of the flagship campus. This legacy gift is another example of how much pride they have in giving back and making a difference in the lives of our student-athletes. We are tremendously grateful and look forward to naming the renovated facility to honor their generosity.” 

“I want to acknowledge Jim and Ellen for this significant gift,” said Director of Cross Country & Track and Field David Jackson. “The renovated performance center will be a game-changer for our programs. We will have one of the premier training facilities in the Northeast that will allow our student-athletes optimum space and resources to develop while at UMass.”