Many college sports fans mistakenly are under the impression that athletic programs have an endless supply of scholarship money to disperse, but that certainly isn’t the case. Beyond NCAA restrictions on the number of scholarships each athletic program can award by sport, there’s the matter of raising the money to fund those scholarships.
For Florida Gulf Coast University Athletics, one Southwest Florida organization has stepped up from the beginning to answer that need. The Hillmyer-Tremont Student-Athlete Foundation provides scholarships to student athletes from schools in Lee and Collier counties who are unable to pursue their academic goals without financial assistance. The foundation committed to FGCU’s first endowed scholarship for athletics in 2001, and including a recent $250,000 gift to the university, it has dedicated almost $800,000 to help FGCU student-athletes pursue degrees. That’s a significant chunk of the more than $2 million in scholarship money the Hillmyer-Tremont Foundation has dispersed since its 1997 inception.
Named after former Lee County developer and business leader Maurice “Monk” Hillmyer and Elmer Tremont, a legendary scholastic basketball coach and teacher, the foundation rewards local students who live by the values leaders such as Hillmyer, who died at age 84 in 2008, and Tremont, now 89, stand for: team play, leadership, academic success and a commitment to community service and sportsmanship.
It is thus fitting that FGCU, in recognition of the foundation’s latest gift, is naming the hospitality suite in Alico Arena after Hillmyer and Tremont. The tribute will include a portrait of the two men along with a plaque to honor them with engraved plates recognizing FGCU recipients of the scholarships since 2001-02.
Stanley “Butch” Perchan, FGCU’s senior associate athletic director for external affairs emeritus, also pointed out that the Hillmyer-Tremont Foundation has sponsored the university’s student-athlete Academic Honors Luncheon for the past decade (see more about the most recent honorees, who are shown in the photo above).
“Many on the board are also donors at FGCU, and many also have relatives that attend or attended FGCU,” said Perchan, who joined FGCU in 2000 and coordinated the fundraising for FGCU’s sports programs and state-of-the-art athletics facilities. “Board members have consistently carried a powerful message of support for FGCU, crediting us with playing a key role in higher education and growth in our Southwest Florida community.”
The board includes Tremont himself, Monk’s son Barry Hillmyer, Sam Crimaldi, Darin McMurray, Morgan Bowden, Mark Wiles and John Stroemer. The foundation support for FGCU’s mission that Perchan mentioned is reaffirmed by Crimaldi.
“We still provide a number of other direct scholarships to athletes that total up to $100,000 a year,” he said, “but since FGCU has come along, the university has provided an extraordinary opportunity to local young men and women who, for one reason or another, can’t leave our area, but are capable of getting that first-rate college degree. The community truly appreciates what FGCU does for the youth of the Fort Myers area.”
Noting that most of the board members are former college athletes themselves, Crimaldi said that “commitment to athletics can make a difference in your life, as it made a difference in ours.
“As business leaders and owners, education is what we depended on, but athletics is what gave us an advantage,” Crimaldi said, speaking of his fellow board members. “If you carry the work and commitment it takes to be an athlete into the classroom, you’ll be successful.”