The Davidson Wildcats baseball team today announced an unprecedented $5.6 million gift that will create four full baseball scholarships, an endowment inspired by last summer's record post-season play, when the team battled their way to conference and regional champions and, then, underdogs of the Super Regional tournament in Texas.
The endowment will more than double the number of Davidson baseball scholarships, to seven, rivaling many of the school's Atlantic 10 peers.
"This is deeply transformative for Davidson baseball," said Head Coach Dick Cooke, calling the gift a "grand slam" for the program's future.
The anonymous donors are challenging the Davidson community to fully endow at least one additional scholarship.
"This team turned Davidson baseball into a national story," said Director of Athletics Jim Murphy '78. "Whether the headline made us Cinderella or Goliath's opponent, the story was teamwork triumphing over individual talent. The nation saw what is possible here, and this scholarship support propels us further."
Members of the 2017 team are scheduled to receive their championship rings during a halftime ceremony at tonight's [Nov 10] men's basketball game and will be honored at a dinner following the alumni baseball game on Saturday.
Davidson College has played baseball for 115 years with alumni now filling the ranks of CEOs, education leaders, hedge fund managers, doctors, lawyers and Division I baseball coaches. They live up to the term "scholar-athlete," graduating at the top of their classes, and many committing to jobs before starting their final semesters on campus.
Some 2017 team members postponed starting work or prepping for grad school in order to compete in the post-season run, underscoring how Davidson's Division 1 success chalks up another way in which the college steps out from the liberal arts college pack.
"A successful program takes talent, and it also takes sound leadership," said Davidson College President Carol E. Quillen. "Coaches, like Dick Cooke, are not just shaping athletes. They are devoted to Davidson's mission of cultivating those who will lead and serve in the world. They are committed to excellence, on and off the field."
The gift fully endowing four new scholarships was made in honor of Murphy, Davidson's director of athletics since 1995, who steered the college through its 2015 transition to the A-10 Conference.
"I am humbled to be honored by the generosity of this group of donors," said Murphy, a member of the 1975 baseball team. "They share our vision for what this program can accomplish, and I look forward to celebrating continued successes together. Their gift has forever changed Wildcat baseball."
Quillen emphasized that Division I athletics are a distinctive part of Davidson.
"Our programs provide an incomparable experience for student-athletes, and scholarships are critical to building upon past success," she said. "I am grateful to every person who chooses to support Davidson, and all 21 of our Division I programs, in achieving our highest aspirations."
The Davidson Athletic Fund staff is working to endow an eighth baseball scholarship by the close of the fiscal year on June 30, 2018. To learn more, contact Gavin Viano, associate athletic director and director of athletic development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-894-2657.