By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (May 6, 2017) — Tarleton State alumnus and athletic hall of fame member Mike A. Myers presented a record $2.4 million donation toward the renovation of Tarleton Memorial Stadium Saturday evening.
Tarleton president Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio announced the donation and Myers’ plan to name the west side complex at the stadium the Lonn Reisman Athletic Center in honor of 26-year athletic director Lonn Reisman.
The announcement and presentation was part of the 2017 Tarleton Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the university’s Thompson Student Center.
“Mike Myers has made what I think is going to be a transformational gift for us simply because what he has done is make possible something we could not have done without a gift of that magnitude,” said Dottavio following the induction of six new members into the athletics hall of fame. “For him to give that amount of money and then to name the west side stadium complex after somebody else is truly an act of humility I think, and an act of service on his part that speaks volumes about who he is as a man the meaning (Reisman) has to him and to this community.”
Myers had a successful career as a banker and real estate developer as chairman and owner of Myers Financial Corporation for almost 50 years. He was inducted into the Teas Hall of Fame in 2008, and is the namesake of the track and field stadium at the University of Texas where the UIL State Meet will be held next week.
At Tarleton from 1954-56, Myers helped the Texans to their first junior college conference championship in football since 1928. He also competed in track and field, was a class favorite and served as vice president of the student council, according to a release from the university athletic communications department. Myers was named a Tarleton Distinguished Alumnus in 1978, a Ring of Honor recipient in 2004 and both a President’s All-Purple Award recipient and athletic hall of fame member in 2012. Last year, the university presented him the President’s Legacy Award for Excellence through Leadership.
“Tarleton’s athletic programs bring pride and recognition to the university,” said Myers, according to the release. “An outstanding athletic director and renowned basketball coach, Lonn Reisman deserves to have his name join those legendary Tarleton coaches like W.J. Wisdom, Oscar Frazier and Cecil Ballow on the school’s athletic facilities. I am pleased that President Dottavio, Chancellor John Sharp and the (Texas A&M) system board of regents have seen it fit to honor (Reisman) in this way.”
Reisman has been head basketball coach 29 years sand athletic director 26 years at Tarleton, leading the transition from NAIA to NCAA in 1994, then leading his department to national prominence including a No. 23 fish in the Learfield Cup Standings in 2014-15. The Learfield Cup is presented annually to the NCAA Division II university that has the most success across the board in all sports combined.
Reisman has 635 wins on the hardwood at Tarleton, making him the winningest college coach at any level in Texas. He has led the Texans to 14 NCAA regional tournament appearances over the past 16 years, and to four regional championships and Elite Eight appearances. The Texans reached the national semifinals – the final four – in 2005 and 2015.
“I was in shock,” said Reisman of learning Myers planned to name the west side complex at the stadium after him. “You work with a gentleman you respect so much for everything he has accomplished and then everything he has given back through the years, then he tells you he wants to put your name on it. That is very humbling for me, and I think it shows the humility of (Myers) and the type of man that he is.”
Tarleton Memorial Stadium opened in 1951 and received a major facelift in 1977. The last major renovations were in 1988-89, including expansion of seating, remodeling of a concession stand, building of the current field house and renovations to track and field facilities.
In 2015, the Texas A&M System Board of Regents approved $24 million to fund another major renovation, highlighted by converting the west side of the stadium – historically the visitor’s side – into the home side with state of the art upgrades including a new press box and more. Huckabee and here Sports are the architectural and engineering firms for the project, according to the Tarleton release.
Reisman says the Myers donation will allow Tarleton to fulfill its vision for the stadium without cutbacks. Construction should have a minimal affect on the 2017 football season and be complete in time for the 2018 season, according to university officials.
“There’s no doubt this donation puts us in position to get what we want. If we don’t have his 2.4 million dollar donation we would have had to scale it back,” Reisman said. “This puts in a position where we are able to move forward with making this a venue that Tarleton, Stephenville, Erath County and all of Central Texas can be proud of because it’s going to be a truly state-of-the-art stadium.”
It sure will do a lot of good for diversity education and ending hazing. It will also do a lot for keeping underage students safe from alcohol, substance abuse and sexual assault. Why doesn’t someone give money for those things? All that money for a leather covered air bladder, 120 yards of turf, two metal uprights and an ever expanding amphitheater of spectators worshipping athletic prowess. How about emphasizing academic excellence, humanitarian progress, kindness and understanding. Let me see you give a matching grant to those things Mister Myers!