The name of a former payday loan mogul has been scrubbed from an athletics building at the University of Tennessee after he failed to follow through on a $2 million pledge.
In 2000, Steve "Toby" McKenzie, and his then-wife, Brenda, pledged $4 million for an athletic center that adjoins the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex at the corner of Lake Loudoun Boulevard and Chamique Holdsclaw Drive. The center includes an expansion of the football practice facility and office space for athletic department administration.
According to Tiffany Carpenter, a spokeswoman for the UT men's athletics department, the couple later divorced and the pledge was split evenly between them. While Brenda Lawson paid her portion in full, Carpenter said, McKenzie did not complete his pledge and his name was removed from the building Monday.
"He is still a significant contributor, and we have now named the mezzanine level of the Lawson Center after Mr. McKenzie," Carpenter said.
The move is the latest bump in the road for the Cleveland, Tenn., businessman who - along with Brenda McKenzie - founded a payday loan company that was later sold, and more recently has worked in real estate development. Last month, McKenzie filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to allow for reorganization, and a court filing lists claims of more than $151 million. McKenzie's assets are estimated in a range between $100 million and $500 million.
A meeting of creditors is slated for Tuesday at U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chattanooga, and those in attendance are likely to include bankers. A list of creditors holding unsecured claims is dominated by banks, including:
n GreenBank in Knoxville, with a $15 million claim.
n First Tennessee Bank in Memphis, with a $10 million claim.
n Sevier County Bank, with a $1.8 million claim.
An official with GreenBank did not return a call seeking comment. A spokesman for First Tennessee Bank said the bank's confidentiality policy prevents officials from commenting.
R.B. Summitt, president of Sevier County Bank, said his bank's claim is based on a loan for land in Gatlinburg but said his bank is well-collateralized.
McKenzie could not be reached for comment. Kyle Weems, an attorney who is representing McKenzie in the Chattanooga businessman's capacity as debtor in possession, said that "the freeze in liquidity of the credit market, combined with the collapse in real estate" was to blame for McKenzie's financial troubles.
Business writer Josh Flory may be reached at 865-342-6994.