Let's face it: One of the last places anybody expects to find four older white guys with millions of dollars to give away is in a video with two black college students, one rapping and the other singing melodiously.
And though it might seem that the major donors to Bowling Green State University's Stroh Center are out of their league, the result is a savvy and innovative expression of thanks to all who helped make the new home for BGSU men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball teams a reality.
Mikey "Rosco" Blair.
Hats are off to Kerm Stroh, Bill Frack, Larry Miles, and Allen Schmidthorst, to sophomore Mikey "Rosco" Blair and senior Rachel Willingham, and to athletic team members who appear in the the three-minute video that's gone viral with nearly 80,000 views on YouTube.
It shows three of the donors in basketball uniforms toying with basketballs in the arena, while later the other donor appears sitting on a sofa and offering a stern look. The masterminds behind the video are at Madhouse Creative in downtown Toledo, where partner Rob Seifert, a BGSU alum, was happy to work on the project, said Dave Kielmeyer, university spokesman.
The idea to take a vastly different approach to tell about the center's opening was born last spring out of a collaboration between the BGSU marketing and communications, athletics, and university advancement departments.
"Early on we struck on the idea of doing a video and to honor the major donors for making it possible, and from the start, we wanted to do something different," Mr. Kielmeyer said.
He said Mr. Seifert wrote the lyrics and directed the project that his agency filmed. The initial intent was for the donors to sneak into the center. However, that posed too many challenges, Mr. Kielmeyer said. Then Mr. Seifert came up with the idea of a rap video.
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"I told him to convince me," Mr. Kielmeyer said, "and he put something together and we said, 'Let's try it.' "
The idea worked, thanks in part to the talents of Mr. Blair, a telecommunications major from Cleveland, and Ms. Willingham, a communications studies major from Euclid, Ohio.
A search for a rapper and a suggestion from the gospel choir director landed the pair in the video. After the university put out feelers for student participation, Mr. Blair nabbed the spot.
"That's how we found Mikey," the spokesman said. "And Rob is friends with the gospel choir director, who told him about Rachel."
Meanwhile, he said Mary Ellen Gillespie, BGSU associate athletic director for external relations, from the start got the donors to agree with the goal of a lighthearted, fun, and creative project.
"We were a bit nervous until they saw it for the first time," Mr. Kielmeyer said. "They are four very down-to-earth men."
They must be to give major bucks to help fund the $36 million sports complex at BGSU, from which only one graduated.
Larry Miles, a 1956 alum, is a retired executive from Marathon in Findlay. His $1 million funded the practice court, the "Court of Champions." The donation is in memory of his late wife, Joann and brother, Lanny, also BGSU graduates. Lanny also played basketball there.
Allen Schmidthorst, who attended BGSU for a year, has followed the basketball team for decades. The businessman's $1.7 million helped fund the Schmidthorst Pavilion.
Kerm Stroh, the former owner of a propane gas company and who has also been a Falcons fan for many decades, donated $8 million.
Findlay native and retired Hardin County government, political science, and English teacher Bill Frack began following BGSU basketball as a youngster. Part of his $10 million gift to come from his estate also pays for the Bill Frack Court.
Contact Rose Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6178.