MORGANTOWN - Did you know that the late Milan "Mike" Puskar initiated West Virginia University's Athletics Endowment Fund?
I didn't until shortly after the co-founder of Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. and widely known philanthropist died on Oct. 7 of cancer. He was 77.
Ed Pastilong, WVU's Director of Athletic Emeritus, said Puskar kicked off the drive for the Athletic Endowment Fund with a $1 million dollar gift.
That was in 1989 after the school's president at the time lifted 250 scholarship waivers from athletics and awarded them to students in academic areas.
Eventually 300 other people began contributing regularly to that fund. And when Pastilong retired on June 30, 2010 that endowment fund had grown to about $31 million dollars.
"Only the interest is used for athletic scholarships and it's under WVU Foundation's control," Pastilong explained.
"We got the idea from the University of Southern California. It endows scholarships by athletic positions. We endowed grants for all sports - not just football."
The WVU athletic department was giving out about 400 scholarships when Pastilong turned the athletic reins over to Oliver Luck.
WVU is going to miss Mike Puskar tremendously and many other people will, too. He not only gave generously to good causes but was a wonderful, friendly gentleman.
Pastilong also revealed that of the $20 million Puskar gave to the university a few years ago, $14.5 million was designated for athletes.
"We used some of that to complete projects that we had planed," he explained. "Those included the suites on the west side of Milan Puskar Stadium."
Puskar had bought two of the suites on the Press Box side, and he did the same on the new set at the north end. And his lease was for a five-year period.
According to the retired A.D., some of the $14.5 million was spent on construction and renovations.
Those included improvements at Hawley Field, practice fields for men's and women's soccer teams, tennis courts, football practice field, the new suites, and the newly completed practice building for the men's and women's basketball teams.
Puskar's first large gift to WVU that was made public was $5 million.