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UD’s men’s and women’s basketball teams were Colonial Athletic Association champions during the 2021-22 season.
UD’s men’s and women’s basketball teams were Colonial Athletic Association champions during the 2021-22 season.

Delaware First: Empowering excellence on and off the court

Photos by the Athletic Department | Photo illustration by Jess Collins

The Men’s and Women’s Basketball Excellence Funds enable the programs to achieve even more in and out of competition

With winning seasons culminating in both teams taking the Colonial Athletic Association championship titles and going to the NCAA Tournament, the University of Delaware’s men’s and women’s basketball programs can still hear the applause and feel the excitement. But both programs aren’t ready to sit back and be satisfied with a great season. They are looking ahead to what is next.

To help ensure both teams have the resources needed for the greatest success, two funds were established: the Men’s Basketball Excellence Fund and the Women’s Basketball Excellence Fund. These funds, which are philanthropically supported, allow the head coaches and athletics department leadership to use them to ensure the teams have resources and opportunities needed to continue to grow in competition and add to the success of student-athletes. 

The goal is to raise $2 million for the two funds, using them to help grow the programs and enhance the student-athlete experience with elements like:

  • Team charter travel 

  • Coaching salaries to retain and recruit high caliber coaching staff

  • International training trips once every four years

  • Capital improvements specific to the team areas 

  • Game guarantees for non-conference home opponents 

To date, more than $600,000 has been raised for the two excellence funds, and additional donor support will ensure both programs can continue to grow and thrive in and out of competition.

Realizing a dream

As a Newark, Delaware native, University of Delaware alumnus Thom Shumosic, class of 2006, grew up watching Blue Hen basketball in the Field House so his love for the program runs deep. One of the highlights of his fandom was seeing both men’s and women’s teams make it to the NCAA Tournament in 2022. 

“I really love the history of UD basketball and love seeing where it’s going today,” Shumosic said. “The NCAA Tournament game was tremendous, and we were grateful to be part of it with the men’s team and other supporters. I know these kids and the coaching staff, and they deserved everything they got in this experience. My one fervent dream has always been to see UD win an NCAA Tournament, and if we want to compete at that level, we can’t sit around and hope for it. We all need to do what we can.” 

Now, he’s hoping to be part of making that dream come true and is looking forward to making an impact on the program’s future. Shumosic and his wife Stephanie recently made a gift to support the Men’s Basketball Excellence Fund. Part of their gift is included through estate planning, creating funding for greater opportunities in the distant future as well as immediately with the other portion of his gift.

“I chose to give an estate gift because it’s about the legacy I’d like to leave behind and make sure the program will be supported 50 years from now,” Shumosic said. “I was inducted into the Alumni Wall of Fame in 2015 and when they unveiled the wall in Alumni Circle what struck me was the number of names already on it, but also this swath of granite for future inductees. We’re only here for a finite period, but the University and basketball program will be here long after I’m gone, and I want to leave a positive mark.”

The men’s basketball coach, Martin Ingelsby, is grateful for the present and future support that is “important for the growth of our basketball program and capitalizes on the momentum of this season.” Ingelsby not only appreciates the funding for enhancing the program’s competitive edge, but also for ensuring student-athletes have a fulfilling University experience.

“The excellence fund enhances the student-athlete experience and directly invests in the men’s basketball program with charter travel for games to keep players rested and fresh for competition, guaranteed home non-conference games and foreign travel,” Ingelsby said. “With basketball being an almost year-round sport, student-athletes don’t get to do a study abroad program. So, the international travel gives them a cultural education they wouldn’t otherwise get and helps our group come together to create relationships that last beyond the wins and losses.”

Enhancing the student-athlete experience

Russ and Donna Crook, Double Dels from the class of 1972, support both the men’s and women’s excellence funds, helping to empower equity in the programs in terms of experience and competition. Their support extends their passion for the University.

“We care for all things UD very deeply, and we are happy to be a part of the Blue Hen family,” said Russ, who is also the president of the Blue Hen Touchdown Club that supports UD football. “We have been following both teams for years and we’re looking forward to what the future holds for the programs and especially the student-athletes.”

Donna agreed that the gift is about more than winning games but helping student-athletes gain more from their time at UD.

“We want the funding to help give them the best possible experience,” Donna said. “The women’s basketball program has a history of success, and we look forward to Coach Sarah Jenkins making her mark on the program. We want to be a part of giving them the opportunities on and off the court and helping with future success.”

Jenkins recently became the women’s basketball head coach, and she has a vision for the program becoming top in the country. But she said that competing against larger schools with greater resources requires funding to “even the playing field.”

“We want to be and will be the number one team in our league and be one of the top 20 programs in the country as a standard, becoming one of the prestigious programs across the country and recognized for our competition level,” Jenkins said. “I believe wholeheartedly we can do that, but the key is sustainability. You can have one good year but to sustain a successful tenure — with high-level performance and high-level competition — support from the excellence fund is key.”

For more information about the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Excellence Funds, contact Brendan Fuller at bfuller@udel.edu or 302-831-3177.

About the Campaign

Delaware First: The Campaign for the University of Delaware was publicly launched on Nov. 10, 2017. The comprehensive engagement and fundraising campaign unites Blue Hens across the nation to accelerate UD’s mission of cultivating tomorrow’s leaders, creating solutions to grand challenges, inspiring innovations and transforming lives. The united effort will help create an extraordinary student experience at UD and extend its impact on the region and the world.

Building on the record-breaking support and generosity evidenced by the Campaign, on Oct. 7, 2021, the University announced the extension of Delaware First with a $1 billion goal to further fuel change and innovation for students, faculty, campus and the world.

For more information, call 302-831-2104 or email campaign-info@udel.edu.

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