An endowment to pay for the scholarship of USC’s quarterback has been established in the name of Gamecock football legend and broadcaster Tommy Suggs.
The endowed scholarship, a common feature at other major college programs, is a first for the USC football team. The Gamecocks will have an endowed scholarship for a baseball pitcher starting next season. An endowed partial scholarship in women’s golf began in 2004.
More than 100 donors have agreed to contribute to the Thomas E. Suggs Endowed Quarterback Scholarship that expects to raise more than $300,000 in time to start next season, said Susie VanHuss, a former USC foundations director who is helping coordinate fundraising efforts.
The team’s head coach decides who will be designated with the endowment, school officials said. The endowment will cover the cost of a scholarship, which is $37,000, according to USC data.
The endowment was started by a pair of Suggs’ Sigma Nu fraternity brothers, John Harloe and Peter McCausland, who wanted to honor the quarterback’s legacy at USC.
Suggs led the Gamecocks to their only conference title in 1969 and beat archrival Clemson in three consecutive seasons from 1968-70. The Lamar native has been part of Gamecocks radio broadcasts for 39 years, heads the KeenanSuggs insurance firm in Columbia and chairs the Garnet Way, an effort to improve USC athletics.
“With his commitment to his family, his friends, his customers, his school and his church, he’s a perfect fit for something like this,” said Harloe, an executive at a Dallas money management firm. “We would like to see this last for many years like his records have.”
VanHuss, Harloe and other organizers spent more than two months raising money for the endowment without Suggs’ knowledge. They broke the news to him and his wife, Jane, a week ago at a dinner before USC’s home opener.
“I have been very lucky to receive a lot of recognition,” said Suggs, 63, who was inducted into the college’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1989 and received an honorary doctorate from the USC business school in May. “I’m amazed that in this day and time that so many people can keep a secret.”
A gala on Nov. 8 is planned for Suggs endowment donors at Williams-Brice Stadium, VanHuss said. Donors include USC president Harris Pastides and several school trustees, VanHuss said.
USC already is talking with alumni currently playing professionally about participating in scholarship endowments, said Jeff Crane, school’s assistant athletics director for development.
“There was a team of volunteers excited about the opportunity to endow the (Suggs) scholarship,” Crane said. “We hope this will create momentum for other endowments.”