Iowa State athletics benefit from ex-athletes’ donations

Scott Andresen

Money, ahh precious money. When money talks, people listen and that

goes double for Iowa State. Future student-athletes of Iowa State will

benefit from a scholarship and a challenge given by Des Moines businessman

Bill Knapp.

Knapp gave ISU a $25,000 gift to kick off his challenge to raise

$250,000 for student athletes. Knapp’s pledge is contingent upon ISU

raising an additional $225,000 from the Des Moines area.

Jim Crownie was the first Des Moines businessman to accept the

challenge and matched Knapp’s gift. The gifts and challenge were announced

on May 30 by former Iowa Governor Robert Ray, who is heading the

scholarship fund-raising effort in Des Moines.

“Bill Knapp issued the challenge to other Des Moines leaders and Jim

Crownie was the first to step up and accept the challenge,” ISU Athletic

Director Gene Smith said in a press release.

“Their gifts have given us a great start to our Des Moines-area

campaign, and with Governor Ray’s leadership, we’ll reach our goal.”

Much of the scholarship money raised will endow “Olympic” sports, which

include swimming, track and field, golf, tennis, gymnastics, baseball,

softball, wrestling and volleyball.

ISU has taken that challenge upon itself and has started to build a

base of contacts for donations.

“We’ve begun to contact the people that were at the event,” Smith said.

“We’re moving the challenge along; the media’s been helpful.”

Aside from that scholarship venture, ISU was also given nearly $1.85

million to endow student-athletes. Three former Cyclone athletes and their

families along with an anonymous donor gave the donations to the


“All three former athletes are successful businesspersons who have fond

memories of their days as Iowa State students and athletes,” Smith said.

“They want to make sure that others also have a chance to experience the

excitement of competing for the Cyclones.”

Former football player Al Sorenson, former swimmer T. A. Wilson and

ISU’s first All-American in basketball, Waldo Wegner, gave a huge boost to

the university’s $5 million fund-raising effort for student-athlete


“These three former athletes were leaders as Iowa State

student-athletes many years ago, and they’re exhibiting their leadership

once again,” ISU President Martin Jischke said in a press release. “Through

their generosity, they are ensuring that Iowa State will have a lasting

source of funds to continue supporting a wide range of intercollegiate

athletic opportunities for young men and women.”

Smith has felt all along that ISU has excellent athletic opportunities

in the future.

“This is what I saw when I first came here, ISU has great athletic

opportunities, but it takes commitment,” Smith said. “People are starting

to step up; I’m extremely excited.”

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