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Student Athletics

Alumni Gifts A ‘Hole In One’ for Spartan Golf Complex

San José State University’s Spartan Golf Complex, a $10.2 million project, will be the first-ever on-campus training facility for men’s and women’s golf. The entire project was funded by private giving, including a $5 million lead gift commitment from entrepreneurs, financial industry executives and alumni Rich and Cindy Thawley. 

Donald and Sally Lucas, fellow alumni and longtime major donors to San José State, also committed $1 million to support construction of the Spartan Golf Complex, with phase one of the project slated for completion in December 2016. 

San José State’s impact on collegiate golf remains massive. The Spartans are one of only 11 NCAA programs nationally with both an individual men’s champion and women’s champion, and are one of only nine programs to claim a NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship and Division I Women’s Golf Championship. In fact, the SJSU women’s golf program has won three national championships – in 1987, 1989 and 1992. 

Tennis Champions’ Legacy for Students and Youth

Tennis legend, LGBTQ advocate and California State University, Los Angeles alumna Billie Jean King continued her tradition of giving to her alma mater through the establishment of the Rosie Casals and Pancho Gonzalez Tennis Center. King’s philanthropic and collaborative efforts with Cal State LA recognizes two tennis greats, Rosie Casals and Pancho Gonzalez, who themselves have worked tirelessly on behalf of students and youth. 

In total, King, Casals and the Gonzalez family have helped the university raise more than $2.5 million for the tennis center and Cal State LA students. 

In addition to hosting numerous collegiate and public-access activities each year, the Rosie Casals and Pancho Gonzalez Tennis Center will also serve as the Southern California home of the Richard Pancho Gonzalez Youth Foundation, an organization dedicated to the advancement of the Latino/a community. 

A Real Grand Slam 

Bob Bennett, a Fresno native, student-athlete and two-time alumnus, became the winningest baseball coach in California State University, Fresno history leading the Bulldogs to a record 1,302 wins in his 34 seasons in the dugout. Bennett helped Fresno State build Beiden Field into a first-class facility and was largely responsible for the Bulldogs becoming a model in the area for ticket sales, fan support and community pride. 

In honor of Bob Bennett’s three-and-a-half decades of leadership, philanthropy and dedication to the students of Fresno State and the entire Fresno community, the university renamed its baseball facility to Bob Bennett Stadium. An alumni-filled ceremony before the Bulldogs’ home game against San Diego State on May 7, 2016, made the honor official. 

Under his leadership, Fresno State baseball consistently led the nation in game attendance, and in the community, Coach Bennett helped spearhead the campaign to raise $2.2 million to refurbish Beiden Field in 1983. 

Bob Bennett retired in 2002 after guiding the program to 17 conference titles, 21 NCAA regional appearances and two College World Series appearances. 

Water Polo Alumni Legends Revive Traditions 

Peter and Virginia Ueberroth, both San José State University alumni, pledged $1 million to support and sustain the reinstatement of the university’s men’s water polo program, which was disbanded due to budget cuts in 1981. 

The Ueberroth’s gift was made to honor Ed Rudloff, the legendary water polo coach that recruited Peter, who went on to captain the men’s team – winning two state college titles. Rudloff, whose coaching career spanned over three decades, including three seasons at SJSU, was inducted to the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame in 2010. 

Peter went on to become one of the leading businessmen in the country and served as the president of the Los Angeles Olympics Organizing Committee in 1980, and later, commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1984 and 1989. He was also the chairman of the United States Olympic Committee from 2004 to 2008. 

Alumni Roots Spur Renovations to Matador Field 

California State University, Northridge received a $1.5 million gift from entrepreneur and alumnus Irv Zakheim, which will go toward much-needed renovations to the Matador Baseball Field. 

Zakheim (Physical Education, ’71) was the starting second baseman for CSUN in 1970, when the Matadors won the Division II national baseball championship. Forty-five years later, Zakheim still appears on several of CSUN baseball’s all-time record lists. 

Zakheim went on to play professionally for the Chicago White Sox minor league system, and later founded Zak Designs in 1976. 

Alumni Support for Student Athletes, Golf Program 

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Foundation Board chair Bill Swanson (Industrial Engineering, ’73) and his wife, Cheryl, gave the largest gift in athletics history – a $10 million commitment to the university’s golf program. 

The historic gift will establish the Swanson Cal Poly Golf Program Endowment that will provide scholarships for both the men’s and women’s golf teams, including first-generation and engineering student-athletes.​ 

In addition, the Swansons’ gift will provide enhanced support for program operations, including tournament travel and recruitment.​