McNeese receives largest facility naming rights gift in school history
LAKE CHARLES – Ten years ago, David and Kimberly Griffin arrived in Lake Charles with a purpose to make an impact in the Lake Charles and Southwest Louisiana community and to change lives.
On Wednesday, the local business owners (Chick Fil A, Legacy Jewelers to name a couple) gifted $2.5 million over 10 years to McNeese State University for the naming rights of the three-year-old McNeese H&HP Complex which will be renamed The Legacy Center, the largest gift for naming rights of a McNeese athletic facility in the 82-year history of the university.
“What a day,” said Athletic Director Heath Schroyer. “This is a historic day. Three months we reformed the McNeese Athletic Foundation – (McNeese President) Dr. (Daryl) Burckel, (Vice President) Dr. (Wade) Rousse, (MAF Executive Director) Clerc (Bertrand), myself, and Poke Nation. We formed the MAF to have special days like this. This is the vision of MAF. When you have a team like we have right now that works together, you can accomplish unbelievable things.”
“We moved here 10 years ago with working bringing us here,” said David. “After five or six years of being here, we still weren’t sure what our purpose was. We’re from Alabama and when I got the call to see if I wanted to move to Lake Charles, I said sure, they have duck hunting and colleges sports.
“Our why was to get into the foster program. We’ve served 11 foster children and have adopted two, about to adopt a third and we’re serving a fourth. Also our why was getting to know the community; getting involved in McNeese; getting involved with other business owners. What everyone here knows, the people of Southwest Louisiana are amazing. It’s not McNeese sports or the classes, it’s the McNeese coaches, the athletes, the instructors, the professors, other business owners.”
The Legacy Center name has a deep meaning.
“This is a premier facility in the state, especially in the five-parish area,” said Griffin. “It’s one of the most beautiful facilities and truly one that McNeese should be proud of. We (David and Kimberly) talked and prayed about it and decided if we do this, we don’t want our name on it.
“It’s bigger than the restaurant, bigger than the jewelry store, bigger than our name. It came back to the Legacy concept. One of our businesses is Legacy Jewelers, our farm is Legacy Fields. We have other businesses that are built on the Legacy concept. For us, it’s our life’s purpose of using a platform of business success to impact those around us. To impact our community, to impact foster children. It’s our way to give back. It became not just a name, but a call to awareness, a call to action.”
“I’m excited about the direction of athletics,” said Burckel. “I’m excited about the team that we have in place. Today is a significant day in the life of the university and the life of the athletic department.”
The money will be used however McNeese sees fit.
“No strings attached,” said Griffin when asked if he has any involvement in how it’s spent.
“We’re going to be conservative with it,” said Schroyer. “We’ll use it to make us better as a department and university.”
“Somebody asked me ‘why now?’,” said Griffin. “I think it was a marriage of three things. One, there was a tremendous need. There was a clear vision of what Heath, Dr. Burckel, Wade and Clerc presented that I bought into, and the ability to do it with them. We’re a part of this community. We’re not going anywhere.
“I’m not just doing it for today. In 14 years when he (oldest son) goes off to college, financially he can go to any university he wants to. It’ll be his choice when he goes. I want no question in my mind that McNeese State University is right for him.”
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