Billionaire's UH honor comes before re-opening of newly named Fertitta Center

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the University of Houston prepares to unveil its newest basketball facility for the first time, the University of Houston's athletics department honored the man who's helped make it all possible.

Tilman Fertitta was honored Thursday during a private opening celebration of the Fertitta Center, as the school ushers in a new era for the Houston Cougars.

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The entrepreneur was also inducted into the UH Athletics Hall of Honor during the invitation-only ceremony, which featured a ribbon cutting at center court, a 3D laser light display and video tribute.

"Tilman has given our athletic program a new level of confidence," UH President Renu Khator said. "His impact on the way we think about and approach athletics, and the way we go after big dreams is enormous."

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Fertitta's $20 million gift is the largest individual donation ever to Houston Athletics. The donation aided a $60 million transformation of what was once Hofheinz Pavilion into the new center.

The Cougars will officially reveal the Fertitta Center wider to UH fans against the Oregon Ducks on Dec. 1 on ESPN2.

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