Scholarship Support in Honor of 6th Fan Voters
April 30, 2014
MACOMB, IL -- What started in mid-January with 340 schools across the country came down to Western Illinois University and Brigham Young University in March. Thousands of Western alumni and friends across the country and around the world participated in the NCAA's 6th Fan Competition to see which college or university had the best fans in the nation.
The contest was designed to award scholarship funds to 16 schools with NCAA Division I athletic departments that sponsor men's basketball. For schools to advance, fans voted via the web, Facebook and Twitter, and over the course of several weeks, Western moved from the rounds of 16 and 8 to the Final Four, and then to the Championship round. In the final competition, the Leathernecks faced Brigham Young University for a chance at the grand prize: $100,000 in general scholarship funds for the winner's university. Against huge odds, Western's students, staff, alumni and friends battled to the end, but unfortunately narrowly lost the last round.
To honor the effort put forth, Vice President for Advancement and Public Services Brad Bainter set about to raise additional scholarship funds to help all students at Western, specifically those facing such financial hardships they might not be able to return to Western.
"While we may not have won the overall contest, we had a great deal of fun and it truly was a show of unity and school pride. The WIU Foundation wanted to capture the excitement generated by the 6th Fan Competition and help raise additional scholarship dollars to help keep our students in school," Bainter said.
Beginning with the $10,000 award earned from NCAA when Western moved into the top 16, assisted by a contribution from the WIU Foundation and a challenge from WIU Board of Trustees Chair Cathy Early, nearly $55,000 has been raised to date in honor of the thousands of alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends who spent weeks voting for Western Illinois University.
"I would like to thank Vice President Bainter, the WIU Foundation and Cathy Early for this special fundraising initiative," said WIU President Jack Thomas. "I would also like to express my appreciation to the individuals who came forward to donate to this scholarship drive. This particular effort is indicative of the loyalty, pride and spirit that makes Western Illinois University the outstanding institution it is."