Dedicated to establishing a permanent foundation for excellence behind one of the most storied programs in college basketball history, UNLV Athletics honored the first four contributors to the Runnin’ Rebel Legacy Campaign on Saturday at the Thomas and Mack Center.
In a pregame ceremony before the Runnin’ Rebels faced defending Big 12 champion Kansas State, UNLV paid tribute to its men’s basketball program’s past success and current optimism surrounding the program under new head coach T.J. Otzelberger. In addition, the athletics department recognized and thanked longtime supporters Bill Paulos, Boyd Gaming, Penn and Sandi Elletson, and Aldo and Dawn Madrigrano for lead gifts towards a $5 million endowment.
In commemoration, the department unveiled each of their names on a portion of Tarkanian Court near the team benches.
“This campaign is part of our efforts as we work to bring the Runnin’ Rebels back to national prominence,” UNLV Director of Athletics Desiree Reed-Francois said. “It also allows us another opportunity to engage with families and stakeholders who embody our core values. The Runnin’ Rebel Legacy Campaign is about excellence and our first four investors personify that in every regard. We can’t thank them enough.”
Once fulfilled, the endowment will produce revenue that will cover the full scholarship cost for the UNLV men’s basketball program. It will also provide resources essential to academic excellence, community engagement and lifelong success for Runnin’ Rebel student-athletes.
“We have a proud past and we are building on that foundation as we look to the future,” head coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “We appreciate those that are leading the way with this campaign. Thank you to Bill, the Boyd family, Penn and Sandi, and Aldo and Dawn.”
The endowment will make the Runnin’ Rebels one of the few programs in the country able to completely fund its scholarships, year-over-year, with private, philanthropic support.
“We are so grateful to these incredible families,” Reed-Francois added. “Their confidence is a pathway to sustained success for our student-athletes as scholarships truly change lives. This campaign reflects the significance of our men’s basketball program — past, present and future — and our commitment to bringing the Runnin’ Rebels back to the national stage.”
The athletics department will continue its efforts to fully fund the endowment with a goal to meet the $5 million mark before the 2020-21 season tips off next November.