The University System of Georgia Board of Regents Tuesday approved the naming of the University of Georgia’s Indoor Athletic Facility in honor of former UGA all-star football player Billy Payne and his father, the late Porter Payne.
The official name of the facility will be the William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility. The naming opportunity is the result of gifts totaling $10 million secured from friends of Billy and Porter Payne.
“Billy Payne and his late father Porter hold a very special place in the storied history and tradition of the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “It is a great honor to have their names forever tied to one of the most prominent athletic programs in the country.”
Former CEO of the Atlanta Olympic Games and chairman of Augusta National, Payne graduated from UGA in 1969 with a degree in political science, and he earned his law degree from Georgia Law in 1973. Both he and his father lettered in football at UGA, Billy from 1966-68 and Porter from 1946-49.
“It is a great day for the University of Georgia to honor Billy Payne and his father, Porter,” said UGA J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity. “We are exceptionally proud to have the Payne family name honored by placement on one of our most significant athletic facilities.”
Payne launched a successful bid to bring the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games to Atlanta and was named president and CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games in 1991. He continued in his leadership role, and became the first person in modern history to land an Olympic bid and then to remain president and CEO during the games.
A founding member and chairman of Centennial Holding Company, a privately held real estate investment company in Atlanta, Payne became chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, in 2006. He retired from that position following the annual tournament in 2017.
Bulldog football legacy
Twice named Georgian of the Year, Payne was recognized in 1997 with the Theodore Roosevelt Award, the most prestigious honor given to an individual by the NCAA. The National Football Foundation named him as the 2009 recipient of the NFF Distinguished American Award, which is presented only on special occasions to honor an individual who has applied character-building attributes learned from amateur football in their business and personal life. He was inducted into the UGA Circle of Honor in 2012.
Porter Payne was an All-SEC offensive lineman in the late 1940’s and was elected as the team captain of the 1949 team. While at Georgia, the Bulldogs won two SEC championships (1946 and ’48) and played in three bowl games—1947 Sugar Bowl, 1948 Gator Bowl, and 1949 Orange Bowl. Payne was also an All-City, All-State, and team captain as a fullback at Boys High in Atlanta.