The athletic department announced plans to recognize a series of four donors who have contributed gifts of $5 million or more to OSU athletics projects. The donors will be honored at halftime of this Saturday's game with Northwestern as the charter members of the Pay Forward Society.
The society's name is derived from the teachings of former Ohio State football head coach Woody Hayes.
Huntington National Bank, Mae and Bill McCorkle, Al and Martha Phipps, and the Jerome Schottenstein Family/Value City Department Stores all have combined to give more than $50 million to the athletics department. Saturday, each donor's name will become a permanent fixture in Ohio Stadium below the main scoreboard in the south end of the stadium.
Tom Hof, associate athletics director for development and marketing at Ohio State, described the donations made by the original members of the Pay Forward Society as gifts that bring life to proposed athletics projects.
"We view these donations as transformational gifts, which is a gift at such a significant level that it literally transforms a program or project," Hof said. "Without gifts of that level we would not be able to do the golf course restoration. They allowed us to build the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Similarly, we had gifts for the Ohio Stadium project.
"These gifts enable us to begin new projects and/or enhance programs that would not be possible without them. These gifts help make dreams become a reality. They enable us to take a concept from the drawing board to actual implementation. Without them, the projects remain on paper as a desire versus a tangible object that will directly enhance the lives of the students who will benefit from them."
Donations from Huntington National Bank and the Schottenstein family enabled the construction of the Jerome Schottenstein Center and Value City Arena in 1998 and the renovation to Ohio Stadium in 2001.
Al and Martha Phipps will be honored posthumously. They left money in their estate so that Ohio State could renovate the varsity golf course. That project is now under reconstruction and upon completion will be considered one of the premiere collegiate golf venues in the country. The renovated Scarlet Course is scheduled to play host to the 2006 NCAA Women's Golf Championships next June.
The Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion played host to its initial intercollegiate meet last weekend when the Ohio State men's swimming team defeated Miami (Ohio). The world-class aquatic facility is a result of a gift made by Mae McCorkle and her late husband, Bill. The new McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion allows Ohio State to host regional and national events, as well as provide student-athletes with a state-of-the-art facility to train and compete.
Hof said the Schottenstein family started the ball rolling with their gift for the arena.
"The first gift is really the one that started a new era," Hof said.
Hof said it was a natural to invoke one of Hayes' favorite ideas to recognize those who have provided opportunities for student-athletes to showcase their abilities.
"We thought it was important to espouse Woody Hayes' teachings," Hof said. "That was the genesis of the name for the Pay Forward Society. We really believe these donors have done that in a magnificent way."