Auburn University accepts 415-acre gift from homestead of legendary football coach Pat Dye

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An aerial photo of Crooked Oaks in Notasulga, Alabama. (Crooked Oaks Farm)

The Auburn University Real Estate Foundation (AUREF) and the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment (CFWE) have accepted a gift of 415 acres from legendary Auburn football coach Pat Dye’s homestead of Crooked Oaks Farm. Located in Notasulga, Alabama, the farm property includes Dye’s main house, a guest cabin, lodge, pavilion, gazebo, two barns and a nursery office. Read on for details.

A generous gift

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Coach Pat Dye with a Japanese maple tree. (Nancy McDonald)

Pat Dye was nothing short of a legend for Auburn University and beyond. He served as the head football coach at East Carolina University, the University of Wyoming and Auburn University throughout his career.

He’s known for reviving Auburn University’s football program as well as sparking the now-held tradition of the Iron Bowl swapping venues between Auburn and Alabama each year.

He had a 99-39-4 record at Auburn in his 12 seasons as coach.

About Crooked Oaks

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Another aerial view of Crooked Oaks Farm. (Crooked Oaks Farm)

His homestead, Crooked Oaks Farm, features 415 acres of sprawling greenspace. Dye began developing the property in 1998 and continued to improve all aspects of the land until his death in 2020.

Here are some examples of the wildlife you’ll find on the property’s ponds, pastures and woodlands:

  • azaleas
  • camellias
  • boxwoods
  • gardenias
  • magnolias
  • oaks
  • pines
  • beeches
  • river birches
  • firs

Crooked Oaks also features a two-acre retreat of walking paths with 200 mature Japanese Maple specimen trees of 71 Japanese Maple cultivars.

Nancy McDonald, Dye’s longtime partner and retired nursing educator at Auburn University at Montgomery expressed the reasoning behind the gift.

“We had been longtime supporters of Auburn University through our charitable trust and in hosting fundraising events, and the timing was right to have the estate settled to make the gift.”

When McDonald retired and moved to Crooked Oaks in 2004, the couple worked together on the farm and continued its development into a beautiful retreat and sanctuary for wildlife and rescued dogs, cats, donkeys and horses.

The 415 acre farm, being held by AUREF from the Dye/McDonald Trust and McDonald on behalf of Auburn University and the college, will continue its operations as an event venue and expand its use as an outdoor classroom and seminar space. Leaders within the CFWE plan to maintain the farm.

“We both knew we would donate the farm to the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment and seeing the work CFWE leaders have done since accepting the proposal, I could not be more confident that the land will be valued and held to the standard Pat and I always wanted to see. I feel his spirit in this, and I know what’s happening is something he would be proud of.”

Nancy McDonald

Uplifting Auburn

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Views from Auburn, Alabama. (Nathan Watson / The Bama Buzz)

“This incredible gift will have a tremendous impact on the college, our students and our academic programs. Our college is well-known for the experiential learning opportunities we provide for our students and this property will not only allow us to increase those offerings, but will also help us engage with our broader community and the state. We are grateful to Coach Dye and Dr. McDonald for their generosity and for entrusting the legacy of Crooked Oaks with us.”

Janaki R.R. Alavalapati, the Emmett F. Thompson Dean of the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment

The Auburn University College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment is a well-known for being a flagship institution for natural resources-based degrees including forestry, and the natural resource, wildlife enterprise and parks and recreation management majors. Its impact spans across Alabama and beyond.

Pat Dye Jr. added, “given everything that Auburn has done for dad and our family, he would be thrilled to know that Auburn will be great stewards of his beloved farm, hopefully for many generations.”

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Gabby Gervais
Gabby Gervais
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