Donors Save Furman University Men's Golf Program
By Torleif Sorenson on 2/26/14
Just a few weeks ago on February 11, we told you about the shocking announcement by Furman University to shut down their NCAA Division I men's golf program. At that time, this writer criticized the decision and especially the decision-making process:
"...the Board of Trustees has not acted in an honest or benevolent fashion; the correct thing to do would have been to advise of the potential decision and give alumni and supporters time to contribute funds to support and maintain the men's golf program."
PGA Tour star and 1983 Furman graduate Brad Faxon, 2006 graduate T.J. Blandford, and 2005 graduate Rob Langley were among six Furman alumni who joined forces to proactively work against the university's decision and begin a fundraising effort.

We are quite happy to report that they have succeeded.

Furman University announced on Tuesday, February 25 that the men's golf program will continue, thanks to these alumni raising almost $300,000. The contributions will cover the team's operating expenses for the next two academic years, while plans also exist for a scholarship endowment that will help sustain the program for the foreseeable future.

Golf Channel's Ryan Lavner contacted Furman's men's golf coach of the last 18 years, Todd Satterfield, whose comments are quite appropriate here:
"It's a great day, filled with a lot of emotions. This is a testament to our alumni and how much they love this golf program. For everyone to get behind it has been incredible. Golf is a pretty close-knit community, and it's great to feel that again."

The university quoted Faxon:
"We are all proud alums of the Furman golf program, and none of us wanted to see it discontinued. So, we talked with university officials and discussed what we could do to bring the program back. Furman has a very dedicated group of men's golf alumni and we had numerous people step up and make some very generous contributions that provided the kind of financial support the university needed. The outpouring of support from Furman alumni and the golf community has been amazing."

The press release also quoted Board of Trustees chairman Richard Cullen:
"We said at the outset that the initial decision was not an easy one, but necessary to ensure that Furman's resources support its core mission. This plan maintains our position. The goodwill with which the alumni have approached us, their genuine concern about the University's well-being, and their commitment to the tradition of golf at Furman has been inspiring."
The fact remains that Trustee Cullen and university president Carl Kohrt made their initial decision and announcement in an unprofessional and underhanded way by catching alumni, supporters, and golf fans off-guard. But at least the two officials had the good sense to walk back their decision in the face of a quick and effective fundraising campaign.

Golf fans owe a particular debt of gratitude to Faxon, who was among the alumni who immediately plunged into action. The Rhode Islander earned a Bachelor of Economics degree from Furman in 1983 and has used his knowledge to spearhead several very successful charitable and non-profit organizations, including with fellow PGA Tour player Billy Andrade. In fact, the Golf Writers Association of America honored Faxon and Andrade in 1999 with their Charlie Bartlett Award.

Faxon may not have won any of the four men's major championships, but for supporting children — and now collegiate golfers — he, Blandford, Langely, and their fellow alumni who stepped up and succeeded are all champions in the eyes of a new group of admirers.

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Image via Furman University

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