Nov. 8, 2009
Eighth blog: Endowed Scholarship Luncheon matches up generous donors with grateful athletes
By Brendan O'Hallarn
A good chunk of the basketball team had lunch today with some of the people who make it possible for Old Dominion University to put athletic teams on the fields and courts.
As part of homecoming week, the 35 athletes in different sports who receive ODU's endowed scholarships (including nine basketball players) attended the 2009-2010 Athletic Endowed Scholarship Luncheon, sitting at the same table as the benefactors who provide them.
This is one of those things I didn't know about university basketball until starting this blog: What an endowed scholarship is.
These generous supporters of Old Dominion University athletics make a donation (sometimes as much as $250,000 or more) and the interest from that invested endowment pays for a scholarship, year after year.
At lunch today I sat with Jerry and Barbara Brown. After retiring from DuPont in Wilmington, Del., they retired to south Hampton Roads, drawn back to the area in part because of ODU basketball.
Jerry, a 1965 ODU grad and former board member of the Alumni Association, and Barbara, endowed a scholarship for men's basketball, which is currently being used by Frank Hassell.
So big Frank sat between the Browns, with his dad Frank Sr. a seat over (I can see where the Junior Hassell got his size). The foursome, plus assistant coach John Richardson and director of basketball operations Joel Hines, spent the lunch hour just talking a little ball.
Frank was asked about running conditioning drills ("They're tough for a big man") and who provides the most difficult matchup for him down low (This year, Northeastern).
The lunch of chicken marsala and pumpkin cheesecake was very nice, and the whole event had a sort of homespun quality to it.
Ben Finney brought his mother, his grandmother and an aunt, hugged and took pictures with a bunch of the donors who he's gotten to know over his three years at ODU, and left after lunch with a big bag full of baking, provided by friends of the folks who endowed his scholarship.
Wally and Linda Haislip, whose $1 million donation to ODU helps fund, among other things, an endowed scholarship for men's basketball, say they just feel so fortunate to be able to help out.
"Both Linda and I come from humble beginnings," Wally said. "We were very fortunate to come to ODU. We recognize how lucky we were, and this scholarship is a way for us to give something back."
Linda said the scholarship also recognizes that "these guys and girls have to be athletes and students. You can't ignore the fact that they're here for an education, too. In many ways, I think they work harder than your typical student."
In that way, it's appropriate that Trian Iliadis is the recipient of the Haislip-Rorrer Endowed Basketball Scholarship. Iliadis, a biochemistry major, has a grade point average near 4.0 after his freshman year.
The Haislips met Iliadis for the first time today. They were especially excited to talk to the guard about his hometown, Perth, Australia.
"Our oldest daughter got married this summer, and one of her bridesmaids came all the way from Perth," Linda said.
Mark Benson, assistant vice-president for athletic development, said at the luncheon that Old Dominion's current endowment for athletics is $14.2 million dollars.
ODU President John Broderick said in a speech that the money couldn't be spent on better kids. He related a story about traveling through Logan Airport in Boston after the men's team played Northeastern last season.
Broderick said he was asked by someone in the airport if he was the leader of the traveling group, "because this is as polite a group of young men as I have ever seen come through Logan Airport."
Dicky Fraim, another endowed scholarship benefactor, said in a speech that as a student at ODU, "I had every experience that I possibly could have had if I had gone away."
That includes playing basketball for the Monarchs, then writing about them for the team yearbook, then ultimately becoming the voice of the team for many years.
Fraim related a story about Ted Constant, who he knew back in the 1970s, when he first started donating money to ODU, including the athletics program.
His donation earned him season tickets, but Constant never went, Fraim said. He finally convinced him to go to a game, and Constant sat courtside with Fraim.
He got so hooked that 30 years later, his name is on the fantastic arena where the Monarchs and Lady Monarchs play their home games.
"I don't know how much money he put into this building," Fraim said. "But that was one person, saying to another person, you ought to get involved in ODU basketball. And look what a difference it has made."
Brendan's Blog 46