Livestrong gives $50M for University of Texas cancer institutes

AUSTIN, Texas — Lance Armstrong’s former charity made the largest investment in its history Tuesday by giving $50 million to the University of Texas, marking the group’s biggest splash since severing ties with the disgraced cyclist as it pushes to restore momentum and influence after a tumultuous two years.

The money will launch the Livestrong Cancer Institutes at a new medical school breaking ground on the university’s 50,000-student Austin campus. Armstrong didn’t attend the announcement in his hometown, and his absence was noticeable.

Livestrong President Doug Ulman said Livestrong has been immersed in “pretty deep” strategic planning and charting a new path since 2012, when Armstrong left the foundation — shortly before he admitted using performance-enhancing drugs after years of defiant denials. Armstrong created Livestrong in 1997, while being treated for cancer.

“Our organization has always said we’re so appreciative of everything he did to get us to the point. Now the mission needs to live on,” Ulman said.

Among the lowest points for Livestrong was when Nike cut ties with the foundation last summer — ending a partnership that built the cancer charity into a global brand and introduced yellow wristbands that became an international symbol for cancer survivors.

The relationship with Nike had generated more than $100 million of the roughly $500 million raised by Livestrong since its inception.

Now more than a year later, Livestrong is trying to send a clear signal that the foundation still packs financial wherewithal and relevance. The new cancer institute will focus on educating cancer patients and help then get access to treatment and resources.

“Looking forward, it’s time for the Livestrong Foundation to embrace an even bigger mission,” said Jeff Garvey, chairman of the foundation’s board.

Armstrong won the Tour de France every year from 1999 to 2005, but those titles were stripped after a massive report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency detailed doping by Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service teammates.

Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber

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