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Endowed Scholarships Announced
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OU women's program to benefit
NORMAN â The University of Oklahoma and its womenâs basketball program announced the addition of three endowed scholarships. The scholarships were donated by Wayne T. âDustyâ and LaFawn Biddle, John and Sue Gibbs, and Robert and Doris Klabzuba. The generous gifts raise the number of womenâs basketball endowed scholarships to eight.
âOur goal is to create a perpetual source of funding for the womenâs basketball program â an idea that leads to self-sufficiency as well,â said OU head coach Sherri Coale.
âThe full scholarship support provided by these generous donors allows us to recruit the best and brightest student-athletes while increasing opportunities for mentoring and establishing special bonds that will tie generations of Sooners together,â Coale continued, noting that the program establishes an ongoing connection between the donating family, the foundation player and the scholarship recipient, a current team member.
Oklahoma Athletics Director Joe Castiglione said, ââThis is an exceptional effort by so many special donors to create a permanent foundation for our womenâs basketball program.
âWe are grateful to all of the donors, who through their generosity have not only enhanced our ability to pursue academic and athletic excellence but directly supports our mission of inspiring champions and preparing leaders.â
The generosity of the late W.T. âDustyâ Biddle and his wife, LaFawn, has impacted nearly all parts of the OU. The Biddlesâ wide-ranging support has benefitted such areas as athletics, the College of Engineering, the Fred Jones Museum, Sarkeys Energy Center, Sooner Heritage Scholarships, and the Sam Noble Museum to name a few. Dusty is an OU graduate who has served on numerous boards in support of his alma mater. Like the Colemanâs and Mary Jane Noble, The Biddleâs played a key role in the expansion project of Lloyd Noble, where the lockerroom bears their names.
Each donor was given the opportunity to chose a former Sooners as their foundation player. The foundation playerâs name will join the donor on the official title of the scholarship.
The foundation player for the Biddle scholarship is Jennifer Cunningham. Cunningham made her mark on OU basketball with her toughness in the defensive post. Despite tearing her ACL three times during her career, she always battled back. She is still in the record books for her blocked shots and rebounds. Cunningham, also an outstanding student, is currently pursuing a masterâs degree from OU and is working as a graduate assistant for the athletics department. The current player that will receive the Biddle scholarship is Leah Rush.
The Klabzuba Foundation has endowed the eighth scholarship on behalf of Robert and Doris Klabzuba. The Klabzubaâs have set a standard of sharing their success by giving back to organizations that are meaningful to them. Their great generosity to OU has enriched academic, cultural and athletic resources throughout the campus. Bob is an OU graduate and CEO of Klabzuba Oil and Gas. He and Doris are Founders of Sarkeys Energy Center and have established several endowments. In addition to financial support, Mr. Klabzuba has been steadfast in offering his time and talents to OU for decades.
Molly McGuire was selected as the foundation player. She left her imprint as one of the most versatile players to step on the basketball court. McGuire holds a place in the record books of nearly every statistical category. Her all around ability made her the quintessential player on and off the court. She was selected to the Big Eight All-conference team three years, was the Big Eight Player of the Year and a second team All-American. Upon completion of her eligibility, McGuire stayed with the Sooner program as a graduate assistant coach. The Klabzuba scholarship recipient is Chelsi Welch.
The eighth scholarship was endowed by John and Sue Gibbs, who are recent converts to the OU family. They met and married in Southern California where John graduated from Cal Poly Pomona. They spent 18 years in Dallas and Houston before moving to Ardmore in 1994 and quickly becoming two of OUâs most loyal fans. John spends most of his time running an oil and gas company. John and Sueâs main hobbies are the OU Womenâs Basketball program and their three grandchildren. In addition, John is currently serving his second year as president of the Fast Break Club.
The Gibbsâ selected Dionnah Jackson as their foundation player. Jackson was a valuable contributor her entire career. Revered for her incredible ability to manage the game from the point guard position, Dionnah helped OU win three Big 12 Championships, was the 2004 Big 12 Tournament MVP and assisted in OUâs run to the 2002 Final Four. Not only was she a stellar athlete, but Jackson excelled in the classroom and recently received her degree in public relations. Current point guard, Kendra Moore, has been chosen to receive the Gibbs Scholarship.
The Biddle, Gibbs and Klabzuba families will be honored at an invite-only banquet that will follow the Sooners Big 12 home opener against Colorado on Dec. 7.
OU announced âThe Starting Fiveâ endowments in June of the 2005. The initial five endowment donors were the family of Jimmie Austin of Seminole in honor of his late wife, Marie; the Jim and Christy Everest family of Oklahoma City; the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation of Ardmore in honor of Mary Jane Noble; and Bob and Ann Coleman of San Antonio, Texas, as well as an anonymous donor.
For more information on OU womenâs basketball, visit www.soonersports.com.