Varsity Club helps athletes with scholarships

Roberto Campos

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Cream-colored paint covers the 200 walls and a ledge that overlooks a multi-purpose basketball court in Physical Activities Center (PAC) 200.

But a step closer, blue-double doors with a sign on top that reads “USI Varsity Club” stands out.

Founded in 1970-1971, the Varsity Club was created by a group of faculty, alumni and people interested in raising money for basketball scholarships who were from Indiana State University-Evansville, before USI became independent.

Since its inception, the Varsity Club has graduated from donating money to basketball scholarships to donating money for scholarships that go to all 15 of USI’s varsity sports.

It has donated over $2.4 million in scholarships that are provided to USI student athletes.

“The Varsity Club is a really unique group,” Athletic Director Jon Mark Hall said. “At the Division II level of athletics, there aren’t many groups like this that volunteer their hours (or) give their dollars to a program such as ours, so they mean a great deal to us. … I think most Division II schools would be somewhat envious of our set up we have.”

With around 300 members, the Varsity Club hosts a variety of events and fundraisers that members can attend and meet student athletes.

The Varsity Club opens its doors in PAC 200 during home basketball games exclusively to members and their families to socialize with other members and student athletes after the game.

Members are able to attend games for each of USI’s varsity sports. The organization will sometimes host Varsity Club events at other sporting events, such as baseball or soccer games.

Lawrence Thomas, senior guard for the men’s basketball team, has felt the support from the Varsity Club over the course of his athletic career – especially when he had to red shirt due to an injury sophomore year.

“You don’t see too many Division II college programs with the support that we have with the Varsity Club,” Thomas said. “Every game, home and away, they’re there to support you – even off the court. They’ll be there if you need a person to talk to. When you’re down, they’re always good positive people to interact with.”

Don Powers, a USI alumnus, has been a Varsity Club member for 25 years and joined to support the school he graduated from and its student athletes through an organization that was not present during his college career.

“Varsity Club is important because it helps student athletes that may not get a full scholarship and helps alleviate some of the cost to them,” Powers said.  “It’s important that student athletes need to know who’s working for them to help them in any way we can that’s legal, that don’t violate restrictions by the NCAA, … and every athlete that I’ve talked to understands that and appreciate(s) us very much.”

“I think if anyone can afford the minimum amount to join the Varsity Club, they should know that it goes for a good cause,” Powers said. “It’s not unwarranted to them. Their money will not be a donation that someone’s forgot about. It actually goes out to something to helps kids that need the help.”

For more information about the Varsity Club visit www.gousieagles.com..

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