Those listed in this article are considered some of the top athletic boosters in college sports across the country. This list has been compiled after hours of research and discussion with groups of panelists. They are listed in alphabetical order. Silver Waves Media presents: 50 Impactful Athletic Boosters in NCAA Division I College Athletics.
A member of the university's Board of Governors, Amy Towers has given millions of dollars to Rutgers Athletics. Powers has donated $5 million towards a new practice facility for the football program and has played a pivotal role in the university’s development.
Arte Moreno was the first Mexican-American owner of any sports franchise when he purchased the Los Angeles Angels from the Disney family in the early 2000’s. His passion for sports can be seen at the collegiate level as he is one of biggest sports boosters for the University of Arizona. The 1973 UA graduate has given millions of dollars over the years.
Known as a mega donor to the USC athletic program, B. Wayne Hughes has been one of the biggest donors at USC for decades. The founder of public storage has donated over $400 millions to the University with a lot of that going towards the athletic program. Sadly, Hughes recently passed away on August 18th but will be remembered for his amazing philanthropy work.
The Army booster is credited with pulling off one of the most successful expansion teams across all sports in recent history. Bill Foley brought the Golden Knights Hockey team to Las Vegas and has seen great success. The 1967 Army grad has poured enormous money into the athletics program and is credited with single handedly funding the mens and womens athletic team facilities.
Bill Hendrix has enjoyed major success with the Clemson football program. The successful business man is known as one of the biggest boosters at Clemson and has donated tens of millions of dollars to the football program for training facilities, locker rooms and offices. This has led to direct success and two national championships in the last six years.
Bill Laurie is known as one of the biggest boosters in the athletic department at the University of Missouri. The husband of Nancy Walton, Bill has poured millions into the Missouri athletics program and donated $25 million for Missouri’s basketball arena to be built.
One of the biggest boosters at one of the most historic programs of all time, Brian Kennedy has been attending USC football for over seventy years. He has personally funded team facilities and practice fields and has continued to keep a strong relationship with the program, despite recent frustrations with performance.
Brian Schottenstein is credited with helping save Big Ten football during covid. With the season in doubt Schottenstein worked with then President Trump and other political leaders to put pressure on the Big Ten to continue on with their 2020 season. He has been one of Ohio State’s top donors.
Casey Wasserman has his hands all over the sports world. The former chairman of the Arena football league is credited with leading the charge with getting the bid for the Olympics in 2028 to LA. He is a big supporter of his alma mater UCLA and one of the most influential boosters at the University. He has had a say when it comes to the decisions that get made at the athletic department, from coaching searches to UCLA changing conferences. With UCLA’s recent success in basketball, Wasserman has to be happy with head coach Mike Cronin.
Charlie Loudermilk is the founder of Aarons rent to own company. Born and raised in Atlanta Loudermilk graduated from UNC in 1950. He is one of the biggest boosters in the UNC program and has donated millions for student-athletes, including recently $7.5 million for student-athlete center in Chapel Hill.
Not only is he one of the biggest boosters in Oklahoma athletics but Christy Gaylord Everest is one of the biggest philanthropists in the state of Oklahoma. The former CEO and owner of the Oklahoman Newspaper has supported the University for years. The football stadium is named after the family (Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium). With Oklahoma's expected move to the SEC we will see how the athletics programs continue to grow.
With the new rule going into effect allowing players to make money off their name and likeness (NIL), Dan Lambert was one of the first boosters to capitalize on this. He has promised a $500 a month endorsement deal for every scholarship player on the University of Miami football team that promotes his UFC gym. As NIL deals continue to grow it will be interesting to see how much money these student-athletes can capitalize on.
Dana Anderson is a 1959 graduate of Kansas and has supported many athletic department projects throughout the year, including the building of the Anderson Family Strength and Conditioning Center. He has formed a strong relationship with Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bill Self.
David Booth made his billions in the financial industry and has been a big supporter of Kansas Athletics. Booth has been very supportive of both the basketball and football programs, donating more than $50 million towards the football stadium renovations.
If you have a school yearbook it was probably published by Don Walsworth and Walsworth Publishing. The 1957 Missouri graduate has donated millions of dollars to the athletic department, including upgrades to the football stadium and other improvements to sports facilities. Walsworth is also a member of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
Making his money in the liquor distribution business, Don Leebern Jr is a very powerful booster with a seat on the board of regents. This allows him to have a say on major decisions that are made at the state's universities. The ex-Bulldog player has had a huge influence on the success of Georgia athletics.
Drayton McClane, the owner of the Houston Astros, is a 1958 graduate of Baylor University. He is known by many as the most powerful booster at the University and the football stadium is named after him, McLane Stadium. When the sexual assault scandal rocked the football program six years ago McClane was critical of the board of regents and the transparency over the situation but has continued to show his support.
Ed Schollmaier has been a major supporter of TCU basketball for years and he was the lead donor for the basketball arena back in 2015. The arena is one of the few in the country that has both couples’ names on the building: “Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena”. Schollmaier has been a TCU Trustee since 1996.
Herb Kohl was a 1956 graduate of the University of Wisconsin. Since then he has lived a very successful life as a former United States Senator and he made his wealth through the Kohl company, which is a nationwide retail chain. Kohl has been a huge fan of athletics, also owning the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team. The Kohl center on campus houses both mens and womens basketball and men's hockey. Kohl was the lead donor with his $25 million donation for the project.
Howard Hawks is a powerful member of the Cornhusker family. He made his wealth as an independent energy executive and he purchased his spot on the board of regents at the University for $200,000, stepping down from this role in 2020. There are many buildings on the campus named after him, including Nebraska's training facility and the College of Business.
If a decision is being made within the Tennessee athletic department it's safe to say that Jimmy Haslem has played a part in it. Some believe Haslem had a say in the firing of the Chancellor of Tennessee. Jimmy's brother, Bill Haslem, is the former Governor of Tennessee. Jimmy has made his millions while being the co-owner of the Cleveland Browns and the MLS team Columbus Crew. He has donated over 50 million dollars to the University.
One of the most notable boosters on this list, Jerry Jones is always one for the headlines. Aside from leading “America’s Football Team,” the Cowboys owner is also a big booster of Arkansas athletics. Jones was the co-captain of the 1964 national championship team at Arkansas and has donated over ten million dollars to the athletic program, including a contribution for a 1964 National Championship tribute.
Jim Collins and his wife Carol have been active in the UCLA community for over sixty years. Collins is credited with donating a large amount of money to the revitalization of Pauley Pavilion that included a bronze statue of John Wooden.The Collins Family have both received the UCLA medal, which is the highest honor that can be awarded from the University.
Kimmy Rane is not only one of the biggest boosters for the Auburn Athletics Program but he is one of the wealthiest people in the State of Alabama. Rane is seen to be a decision maker when it comes to Auburn Athletics and he assisted with the recent coaching search after Gus Malazhan was fired. Rane has donated over $12 million to the University.
Joe Craft graduated from Kentucky in 1972 with a degree in accounting. Since then, Craft has donated over ten million dollars toward Kentucky Athletics. The Joe Craft Center is one of the top basketball practice facilities in the country. Both the Kentucky men’s and women's teams practice there. The donation for the center was the largest private gift in the history of UK Athletics.
Joe Rice, a very successful attorney who attended law school at South Carolina, is one of the most generous donors to the program. He has donated millions of dollars to help the athletics program and former head coach Steve Spurrier even referred to him as, “sort of like the owner of a team”. With the recent struggles at South Carolina it will be interesting to see if Rice continues to donate to the program.
John Thornton, a successful Chattanooga businessman and developer, is a big booster for the Tennessee Athletics Program. He is known for once donating one million dollars to run through the “T” that was formed by the marching band with the players. Thorton has a say when it comes to coaching decisions made with the football program. We will see if new coaching hire Josh Heupel, formerly at UCF, is a big strike for the University.
Arrillaga, a very successful real estate developer, is not only a big sports booster to the Stanford Athletics program but also to the university as a whole. While Arillaga has always been secretive of how much he has donated, it is believed he has given over $250 million to the University. If you ever walk on Stanford's campus there are many buildings with the Arrillaga name on it.
John Jordan is the CEO of Jordan company, a private equity firm. He is a former Fighting Irish football player and donated $75 million to Notre Dame back in 2014, which at that time was the biggest single gift to the university. Jordan has also voiced his opinion in believing that student athletes should be able to receive compensation.
The founder of Papa John's pizza was a big supporter of Louisville athletics and gave millions to the athletics programs. The football stadium and the business school was named after Schnatter up until 2019, after it was discovered he used racial terms on a conference call. After the removal of his name he was seen at Kentucky games supporting the Wildcats.
Leonard Johnson graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in finance in 1978 and graduated from the UF law school in 1980. He has given millions of dollars to the university and is the President of the Gator Booster Club. In 2016 he was appointed to the Board of Trustees for the University.
Leslie Wexner is a successful businessman and graduate of Ohio State in 1959. Wexner has donated to the university in many ways but has specifically donated to the football program. He also serves on the Board of Trustees and donates to the University regularly for new buildings on campus. His influence over Ohio State is so strong that he is credited with the hire of Urban Meyer in 2011.
The billionaire businessman and owner of the Dallas Mavericks is a big fan of Indiana basketball. Many people believe that Cuban had influence in the recent firing of Archie Miller and his ten million dollar buyout. Indiana's athletic director Scott Dolson indicated that one rich booster was responsible for covering the buyout for Miller but Cuban has not publicly claimed he was the one who footed the bill. With the recent hiring of former NBA coach Mike Woodson we will see what his window to win is with Cuban at a historically good program.
Matt Andresen was a 1993 graduate of Duke and the first All- American fencer for the program. He is currently the CEO of Headlands Tech Global Markets. Andersen donated six million to the Duke athletic program for sports that were directly impacted by covid.
Jacobson has been one of the longest and most influential supporters of Nebraska Athletics. The CEO of NebraskaLand National Bank has supported Nebraska in its glory years and its down years. He has given millions of dollars to the football program and understands the importance of good boosters in order to stay competitive in athletics at the school.
Both graduates of Texas A & M, the Davis family has been strong supporters of the sports program. The Davis family recently gave one of the largest gifts in the program's history to help fund the Texas A&M softball complex. This is impressive especially with Texas A&M being known as having some of the biggest boosters in the country.
Paul Bryant Jr. is one of the most famous names in Alabama sports history. He is the son of former coaching legend Paul “Bear” Bryant. Bryant Jr. accrued his wealth in the banking industry and he has given tens of millions of dollars to the Alabama football program. Bryant Jr. has helped pay for top of the line facilities and amenities and has to be happy with the dominance of Alabama football for the past decade.
Paul Jones, a billionaire hedge fund manager, graduated from the University of Virginia in 1976. He has given over $70 million dollars to the University and $20 million towards the John Paul Jones arena, named after his late father. In 2012, Jones II was reported as a key figure in the failed attempt to oust the then President of the University.
Phil Knight, the founder of Nike is one of the biggest college boosters of all time. The former track runner at Oregon has given over a billion dollars to the university with hundreds of millions being allocated specifically for athletics. Knight has single handedly paid for football performance facilities, renovations to the football stadium, and the Matthew Knight Basketball Arena. The university has seen direct success in athletics because of Knights generosity.
Red McCombs is a very successful businessman and is the former owner of the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Vikings. His love for sports goes to the collegiate level as one of the biggest boosters at the University of Texas. He has been critical of Texas football in the past with its coaching hires and with the Big 12 conference not adding more teams to the conference. It will be interesting to see what McCombs' opinion is with Texas moving to the SEC.
Chaifetz is a 1975 graduate of the University. While at the University he faced financial hardships and was assisted by the University to allow him to stay in school. Chaifetz promised that he would pay back the University in the future. He has done this with donating over $27 million dollars to the University. He was the major gift for the Chaifetz arena and donated millions for the business school renovations. He is also instrumental when it comes to coaching hires at the University.
Ron Crockett, an alumni of Washington, cashed in after building a hugely successful airplane-maintenance business and helped to build Emerald Downs horse racetrack. He has personally donated over $3 million to the university and he was one of the leads in raising $90 million in donations for improvements to the university's athletic facilities.
Robert Dunlap has made his wealth in the tire business and has given millions of dollars to Ole Miss over the years. He is considered one of the top athletic boosters in the south. He was one of the twelve boosters whose names were released from the NCAA infractions back in 2017.
Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most prominent alumni of LSU. He attended the university in the 90’s where he was a two time first team All-American and two time SEC player of the year. Shaq finished his degree from LSU while in the NBA in 2000. He has given millions to the university over the years but has asked to keep the donations anonymous.
A 1962 graduate of Michigan, Stephen Ross is a very successful real estate developer and the owner of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium. He is the largest donor in the history of the University of Michigan with over $478 million given to the school. He has given $100 million directly to the athletics department for facilities.
Ted Kellener has donated over $30 million to the University of Wisconsin since graduating from the school in 1969. In 2020 he was inducted into the UW Athletic Hall of Fame. Kellner has a great relationship with AD Barry Alvarez, who has called Kellener, “One of his best friends.”
Terry Pegula, a 1973 graduate of Penn State is a former oil tycoon and one of the wealthiest alumni of Penn State. Pegula owns the Buffalo Sabres NHL team. His love for hockey can be seen at the collegiate level as well as he has donated over one hundred million to build the Pegula Ice Arena.
Thomas Chapman was a stellar pitcher for the Clemson Tigers in the 1960’s. Since then, he and his wife Karen have given over six million dollars to the university and directly funded the grandstands at the baseball stadium.
Tim Cook is one of the most powerful CEOs in the country with his role at Apple. Cook graduated from Auburn in 1982 and it is rumored that he paid for the whole buyout of former Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn. The total buyout was over $21 million. With a net worth of over a billion dollars, this is a drop in the bucket for Cook.
Wendell Murphy graduated from NC State in 1960 with a degree in agriculture. Murphy is a successful farmer and was a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives and Senate. During his time in politics he was able to secure $22 million in funding for NC State's football center that is named after him. Murphy was recently introduced to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.