Alumni gifts grant funds for three new coach endowments

by Kourtney Kawano | 5/14/15 6:01pm

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Men’s soccer head coach Chad Riley occupies the newly endowed coaching position.
by Katelyn Jones / The Dartmouth

To ensure that the College’s varsity athletic program remains competitive among Division I conferences, the Big Green has been relying on generous donations by alumni and supporters to reach its goal of increasing endowed head coaching positions over the past five years. Last Monday, the Office of Public Affairs announced the College’s athletic department received three gifts totaling $5 million for the endowment of the head coaching positions for men’s soccer, women’s tennis and men’s Nordic skiing.

The gifts come as the most recent batch of donations made toward athletic endowment as part of the College’s advancement division’s effort to endow more coaching positions. Senior vice president Bob Lasher and associate director of leadership giving Emily Caldwell spearheaded the fundraising initiative, announced in 2010, to raise $20 million in endowed head coaching positions, deputy director of athletics Bob Ceplikas said.

To honor his former soccer coach, Gregg Lemkau ’91 and his wife Kate donated $2 million to endow the Bobby Clark Head Coach of Men’s Soccer position. During his time with the Big Green, Clark amassed an 82-42-13 record from 1985-93 and led the men’s soccer team to three Ivy League Championships titles in 1988, 1990 and 1992.

The surreal aspect of this announcement, men’s soccer head coach Chad Riley said, is that the naming of this position honors his former head coach at the University of Notre Dame.

“To have the position named for one of my biggest mentors is huge,” Riley said. “For the soccer program, having it endowed by a former player is a huge compliment to their experience at Dartmouth.”

This past fall, Riley led the men’s soccer team to a 12-5-2 overall record, a share of the Ivy League title and the automatic bid for the NCAA tournament. The team ended the regular season at No. 20 after being defeated by Providence College in the second round of the tournament. In his second year as head coach, Riley was named the Ivy League coach of the year.

The process of endowing the position had been in the works for some time after the success of his predecessor Jeff Cook, Riley said.

“I’m not sure what drove the timing, but it always helps to win,” Riley said.

After making a significant donation in 2000 for the establishment of the Alexis Boss Tennis Center, named in honor of their daughter Alexis Boss ’93, a five-time All-Ivy tennis player for the Big Green, Russell Boss ’61 and his wife Marjorie established the Marjorie and Russell Boss 1961 Family Head Coach of Women’s tennis position with a gift of $1.5 million.

Women’s tennis head coach Bob Dallis said the donation is a testament to the Boss family’s commitment to Dartmouth athletics.

“I’m overwhelmed by the Boss family’s generosity,” Dallis said. “They’ve been so important to the tennis program here.”

This year, the women’s tennis team finished second in conference play and qualified for the NCAA Championship with an at-large bid for the first time in program history. Taylor Ng ’17 received the title of Ivy Player of the Year and is set to play in the NCAA singles championship in Waco, Texas, after the team lost to the University of North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

“It’s a nice cherry on top of the season,” Dallis said. “In college sports, funding is important, so having this position endowed is exciting.”

One alumnus chose to remain anonymous after donating $1.5 million to endow the head coaching position of the men’s Nordic ski team. The men enjoyed an extremely successful season under coach Ruff Patterson this past winter, placing sixth at the NCAA Ski Championships and earning a top individual championship in the 10K freestyle from Patrick Caldwell ’17, who was also named the United States Collegiate Ski Coaches Association’s Men’s Nordic Skier of the Year.

In 2010, Dartmouth had only three endowed coaching positions — the 1998 endowment for the Marjorie and Herbert Chase ’30 head coaches of women’s and men’s track and field and the 2000 endowment of the Robert L. Blackman head coach of football. Compared to the other Ivies, Dartmouth had the lowest number of endowed coaching positions, with the top numbers from Cornell University at 23, Yale University at 19 and 11 at Harvard University.

Since the College announced its push to raise $20 million, the number of endowed positions has increased to 14, including the 2007 endowment of the Holekamp Family Strength and Conditioning Coach.

In 2013, five gifts totaling $5.5 million helped support Dartmouth athletics with three of the donations endowing coaching positions — the Digger Donahue 1973 Head Coach of Men’s and Women’s Squash, the Bill Johnson Head Coach of Men’s Golf and the Carolyn A. Pelzel 1954 Head Coach of Women’s Golf.

A year ago, the College received four more gifts totaling $7 million, resulting in the establishment of the Anny Jenny Head Coach of Women’s Alpine Skiing, the Koenig Family Head Coach of Men’s Hockey, the Betsy and Mark Gates 1959 Head Coach of Men’s Heavyweight Crew and an anonymous donation to endow the head coach of women’s rowing.

In the 2013-2014 school year, the endowment income accounted for 11 percent of the athletic department’s total expenses, Ceplikas said.

Dartmouth currently has the lowest average salary for both men’s and women’s coaches in the Ivy League. Ceplikas said that while the endowment’s annual income will support a coach’s salary, this does not necessarily mean the salary will increase.

“The income frees budget money that is used to address pressing needs in that sport,” Ceplikas said. “Often a sport’s most urgent needs pertain to team travel, equipment or recruiting.”

With these recent gifts, the College is $3.5 million away from reaching its goal to endow more head coaching positions and make the athletic program more competitive for conference and NCAA titles. Since the Ivy League first held championships in 1956, Dartmouth has won 133 conference titles, the third lowest total in the conference.

Leading the Ancient Eight is Princeton University with 440 championships and Harvard with 384. Since 1957, the Big Green has won 41 NCAA championships — 3 team and 38 individual titles — through the 2013-2014 season.

More than a third of the head coaching positions of Dartmouth’s 34 — soon to be 35 with women’s rugby elevating to varsity status next year — varsity sports are now endowed.

Although there is no way to know which sports will receive donations to the athletic department’s endowment, the administrators remain optimistic about reaching their goal. Ceplikas cited director of athletics and recreation Harry Sheehy’s role in traveling to meet with potential donors and development officers.

“We know there are a number of alumni considering endowment gifts for their favorite sports,” Ceplikas said. “It’s impossible to predict who will be next to step forward with a seven-figure commitment.”