Pat Murphy dug into his own pocket Wednesday to ensure that the Arizona State baseball family never will forget the Tillman family.
Murphy will donate $100,000 to expand the training room inside the ASU baseball clubhouse, to be known as the “Tillman room,” which will be dedicated to brothers Pat and Kevin Tillman and will hold some of their mementos.
“As you mature and learn what it is all about, you see some of what you can do to help the program,” Murphy said.
“The decisions that Patrick and Kevin made were pretty special — seeing the big picture, doing what was right. I wanted to have a room where we could honor two great Sun Devils who made decisions that turned out tragic but will always be remembered.”
Kevin Tillman was a member of the ASU baseball program from 1997-99, and brother Pat often attended games and practices. Both enlisted in the U.S. Army after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Pat Tillman, an All-Pac-10 linebacker at ASU who left an NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist, was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004.
Murphy said he had dinner with Kevin recently and told him “when it happened, I was devastated. We all were. But in a way, it almost had to happen. This guy was a hero.”
Murphy, who signed a contract extension through 2011 three months ago, said he approached Tillman’s parents with the idea last spring.
“I know this room will mean a great deal to Kevin, and Pat would certainly appreciate it,” said Mary Tillman, their mother.
“Pat and Kevin were very close and shared some wonderful memories together at ASU. I’m touched that both will be represented together in the Tillman room. I think it is a wonderful idea by Coach Murphy, and our family is very appreciative of his gesture.”
Plans are for the Tillman room to be completed by Jan. 1.
“This is an unprecedented gesture from Coach Murphy,” ASU athletic director Lisa Love said.
“When he first approached me with this idea, I was very excited. It really shows his strong commitment to Arizona State University. I hope others will follow suit and help us put the funding in place to complete the renovation of our ballpark.”
Murphy, who has been at ASU for 12 years, will make $272,424 in base salary and additional salaries, with raises built in based on the program’s postseason performance.
Murphy’s contribution will help complete the renovation of Packard Stadium. The family of late coach Jim Brock made a significant contribution last spring, and a final state of improvements is to include installation of chairback seats throughout the stadium, a shade canopy, a press box extension and alumni recognition areas.