BOWLING GREEN — The seeds for the largest donation in Bowling Green State University history — and in Mid-American Conference basketball history — were sown 60 years ago.
“I remember, when I was in eighth grade, my dad told me, 'They have great basketball at Bowling Green University, and we're going to go to some games,' ” Bill Frack said. “Just about every week a national power came here for games, and I was hooked — I was hooked in two minutes.
“The first game I saw was in the old men's gym against South Carolina. I just never grew out of it.”
Because of his long love affair with the B.G. men's basketball program , Mr. Frack, 75, has earmarked a gift valued at more than $10 million to that program, the school announced Wednesday.
The gift comes in a series of Charitable Remainder Annuity Trusts that will be distributed upon Mr. Frack's death to the university by the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation. The dollar total makes it the largest single private gift in school history and the largest onetime gift ever designated to a MAC basketball program.
Previously, Mr. Frack had donated $2 million to the construction of the Stroh Center, which will replace Anderson Arena as the Falcons' home next season. At that time, it was announced that the floor at the Stroh Center will be named “Bill Frack Court.”
Kerm and Mary Lu Stroh gave $8 million to the university, $7.7 of which is earmarked for the new arena.
Mr. Frack is a Findlay native who attended BGSU but eventually graduated from Findlay College, now the University of Findlay, and taught government, political science, and English in Hardin County.
Mr. Frack said he was able to make such a donation by “managing my finances well.”
“I buy and hold — I don't go in and out,” he said of his investing strategy. “And I only buy those that have a dividend, and I keep [reinvesting] the dividends.
“That's the key words: being patient. If you're patient enough, eventually it will add up.”
Mr. Frack said he hopes his endowment will be used to lift the BG program into a spot among national basketball powers.
“We need more money for recruiting, and for getting better games,” he said. “The coaches have been operating with one hand tied behind their backs.
“Hopefully, this will correct that. It won't be overnight, but I think the university will get there. If Butler can do it, if Gonzaga can do it — if they can do it — then by gosh, Bowling Green can do it.”
BGSU athletic director Greg Christopher said the endowment will grow over time, and a percentage of the interest — he estimates it at roughly 4 percent — will be used for a variety of uses besides recruiting and coaches' salaries.
“It's the support structure surrounding men's basketball — the academics, the sports medicine, and the strength program — that will benefit,” Mr. Christopher said. “It's not too often in life you have the opportunity to, or the means to, do something transformational. But that is what is happening here today.
“This will take this program to the next level. This sets a new bar for this program; it sets a new bar for the university. It raises the sights for our fans; it raises the sights for our program; and it raises the sights for our alumni.”
While this gift is targeted specifically towards men's basketball, Mr. Christopher said he expects a “ripple effect” to benefit the school's other programs.
“Does it indirectly help other sports? Yes,” he said. “The success of the program also should have a ripple effect, in the same way the success of the women's basketball program has had a positive effect on our other sports. I think a rising tide lifts all boats.”
The gift itself won't come to the university before Mr. Frack's passing, but that didn't blunt the excitement surrounding the announcement.
“When I told the team [about the gift], they all knew who Bill was,” Mr. Christopher said. “The first thing I told them was, 'You're not going to benefit from this. You're not going to get more shoes, fly on chartered airplanes or anything like that.' This is for generations to come. But you can say that you were here the night it all happened.”
That didn't keep the entire team from taking a moment to shake Mr. Frack's hand while he was getting a standing ovation from the crowd at Anderson Arena prior to Wednesday night's game against Ohio University.
“Everybody is so nice to me — players, coaches, administrators,” Mr. Frack said in a news conference announcing the gift. “They were nice to me even before I gave them money.”
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