John Arrillaga, who has made large donations to Stanford in the past, was not available for comment at his Santa Clara office, but Stanford president John Hennessy confirmed the gift.
"The extraordinary generosity of John's gift will be felt across a number of programs and departments and will provide important support to the university in the pursuit of its mission," Hennessy said.
Stanford officials said Arrillaga, 69, has donated an extraordinary amount of money to Stanford's athletic department, where he played basketball nearly 50 years ago.
Exact records are not available. Stanford is a private university and is not obligated to reveal details about donations. However, some are well-known.
Arrillaga's most high-profile contribution to the university until now was the $22 million Arrillaga Family Sports Center, which houses administrative and coaches' offices, the sports medicine center and a conference center.
He has also contributed to the university beyond the athletics program. The $37 million alumni center is named for his late wife, Fran.
Stanford's athletic program is considered by many to be the best in the country. Since 1994, the university has won the Directors Cup, a national competition
"It really will be going to a variety of research and teaching and departments," said Alan Acosta, Stanford's director of communications.
According to Acosta, the donation was made a few weeks ago, and the university still hasn't decided how to allocate the money.
This is not the first multi-million-dollar gift to make headlines at Stanford.
In 2001, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation donated $400 million to the university - which, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, was the largest single gift to an American college or university.
Netscape billionaire Jim Clark has $90 million to the university in recent years.
Stanford led all U.S. institutions with a record $603.6 million in donations received in its fiscal 2005, followed by Harvard University's $589.9 million. Although, recent years have proved good ones for university gifts.
Arrillaga's Peery/Arrillaga developments dot Highway 101 from Palo Alto to San Jose.
Wire services contributed to this story.
Staff writer Michael Manekin can be reached (650) 348-4337 or at email@example.com