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Clemson Community Comes Together to Meet The Goals of Tiger Pride

Oct. 31, 2000

By Todd LambAsst. Sports Information DirectorThe Georgia Tech Game Program – October 28, 2000

As the Tigers kickoff today against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets the Clemson Athletic Department celebrates Tiger Pride Day at Death Valley.

Tiger Pride is a five-year $60 million capital campaign designed to bring the university’s athletic facilities into the 21st century. This is the first-ever athletic capital campaign at Clemson University. The improvements are already being seen with the renovation of the Fred Hoover Training Room in the lower level of the Jervey Athletic Center, the golf practice facility and Memorial Stadium’s east end zone.

The project also includes further renovations to Memorial Stadium in the west end zone as well as renovations to Littlejohn Coliseum and Doug Kingsmore Stadium. A new indoor track facility, basketball practice facility and an athletic heritage building will also be built.

Much like IPTAY, Tiger Pride donors will have the opportunity to make annual contributions during a five-year period, with some form of recognition. They will also be allowed to designate how the gift will be used and by what facility.

Several gifts have already come forward from the Clemson community, but the university needs your help to meet the goal of the campaign.

The Huckabees

When Watts Huckabee was a young child, he attended football games with his father, Joseph L. Huckabee, a 1950 Clemson graduate and member of the Tigers’ first Orange Bowl team. Most children enjoy coming to football games, but Watts’ experience is probably much different than that of most children.

Like some Clemson fans, Watts’ football weekend began on Friday afternoon after school. But instead of packing up the RV and heading for Clemson, he and his siblings made sandwiches to be part of the family’s tailgate. Big deal, you say.

Well, this wasn’t just any tailgate. This tailgate dwarfed the other tailgates. On any given Saturday, 50 to 150 people would stop by the Huckabee’s spot at the invitation of Joseph, who worked in the textile industry. Watts’ thinks his dad probably had anywhere from 50-70 season tickets that were given to clients his father entertained and they all stopped by for a bite to eat before kickoff. These relationships that Joseph developed over the years led to one of the largest gifts in the Tiger Pride campaign. An anonymous gift was made to name an addition to Littlejohn Coliseum. The Joseph L. Huckabee Basketball Annex will sit on the south side of Littlejohn Coliseum and will be used as a practice facility by both the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Because of this great relationship a generous gift was made and the Athletic Department as well as the Huckabees are extremely grateful,” said Bert Henderson, Associate Director of IPTAY.

“A lot of people support Clemson now who weren’t back then and that is largely due to my father,” Watts said. “My father’s relationship with people at Clemson and in the textile industry helped bring about this naming opportunity for the Huckabee Annex.”

When Joseph died, Watts said it became his responsibility to carry on the tradition and commitment to Clemson that his father started when he became an IPTAY member in 1951. Even though Watts did not attend Clemson (he went to Winthrop) but said it was a family tradition to support the athletic program.

“When he supported something, he was completely devoted to it,” Watts said of his father. “Even though I didn’t attend Clemson, I’ve always recognized the strong commitment to the university that meant so much to my father.”

Watts and his wife, Gina, who is a Clemson graduate, have continued to give to Clemson.

“Through IPTAY, people have the opportunity to help provide scholarships to those who might not have the academics or the financial support to go,” Watts said. “People considering making a gift can see the commitment the university is making to athletics to help protect our national visibility.

“By giving to Tiger Pride, people are not only making an investment and promoting aesthetically, they are also investing financially. Quality facilities will help attract the type of student-athlete who will excel, graduate and enter the work force and ultimately give back to Clemson University.”

The Peelers

The story of Bob and Bill Peeler is a different one. The twin brothers grew up Clemson fans, but neither originally matriculated to Clemson. Instead both went to Limestone College to earn their degrees. But because of their loyalty to Clemson, both wanted degrees from the university, so they went back to school and, in 1991, earned Clemson degrees.

“We’ve grown up in a Clemson family, both academically and athletically,” Bob said citing his family has been members of IPTAY since the 1960s. “Going to Clemson games is one thing that we’ve been able to do together as a large family. Tiger Pride is a great way for us to give back to the university that has given us so much.

“Our family loves Clemson and in some small way Bill and I have chosen this way to give something back. We’ve been going to Clemson events as long as I can remember and the time with our family is one of the most special parts.”

Bill said that he and Bob wanted to do something for the university and went to talk with Henderson and George Bennett, the executive director of IPTAY. It was through discussions with them that the Peelers decided they wanted to be a part of the Tiger Pride campaign and show their support as a stock holder in Clemson Athletics.

“Tiger Pride is a good way to help modernize our facilities,” said Bob, who became the Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina in 1995. “It is great for the future of Clemson and is great for athletics,” added Bill, who still works at the family’s dairy. “To be in the top echelon, we need to have facilities that people can be proud of and that is what this campaign is about.”

“Everyone needs to get involved and people can do that at all levels,” Bill said. “People can buy a brick to honor a family member or a grandchild. They can give on a small scale or an unlimited scale. Tiger Pride allows everyone to get involved and take a sense of pride in athletics and in the university.”

Bob also encourages everyone to get involved and reminds fans the campaign will help all 19 Clemson athletic teams.

“I think everyone should take a look at it and get involved with it,” he said. “It is the future of athletics at Clemson and it is up to all of us to get involved and stay involved as best we can. It is a way to support all the teams. They all make Clemson what it is and when you give to IPTAY and to Tiger Pride you are helping all of them.”

Bill said he thinks that quality facilities help attract better student-athletes and when you have better student-athletes the programs are better, which increases visibility and that in turn helps the university.

“The visibility of the athletic department helps increase the applicant pool of the university and brings a higher quality of applicant,” Bill said. “So the better the athletic teams do it helps admissions. It does have a positive effect.”

There is no doubt that everyone wants to be a part of a winning program and Bill reflects back to two of Clemson’s biggest wins in the last 20 years: the victory against Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl to claim the National Championship, and the Greg Buckner dunk that propelled the Tigers over North Carolina in the 1996 ACC Tournament.

“When I go to an athletic event and see people with their children, that is a big part of what Tiger Pride is about,” Bill said.

The Hudsons

Like many involved with Tiger Pride, W.H. “Bill” Hudson got involved with the campaign because he wanted to give back to the university because of what the university gave him.

Bill is the youngest of five brothers to be offered a football scholarship by legendary Clemson coach Frank Howard. Only four of the five played for the Tigers though all were members of the team. Bill’s oldest brother, Rufus, was a good player in high school, but when he got to college, the medical staff told him he could not play because he had a bad arm.

“The doctors wouldn’t let him play, but coach Howard gave him a scholarship anyway,” Bill remembered. “That just says a lot about him. He really cared about all of us. We can’t ever say enough for coach Howard,” Hudson continued. “He is a great role model for Clemson.

It was that act of caring that has led the Hudson family to give back to Clemson through the Tiger Pride campaign.

“It allows us to show our appreciation back to Clemson,” Bill said. “We’ve been blessed in business and it is an opportunity to give back to the Clemson family.”

The Hudson’s generosity has consistently been shown during the years. On page 101 of today’s game program the IPTAY endowments are listed. The second endowment on the list was made by the Hudson family. In fact, one of the reason’s endowments were started in Clemson Athletics is partly a due to Bill. One year at a football game at Florida State, Bill was looking through the game program and noticed a list of endowments that were benefiting their athletic department. “They had endowed positions,” Bill said. “I thought they were probably raising more money in that area than we were so I took it back with me to Clemson.” Now the list of sponsored endowments in IPTAY exceeds 80.

Bill, a member of Clemson’s 1950 Orange Bowl team that was the school first team to be ranked nationally in the top 10 by the Associated Press, went on to play professional football in both Canada and the United States. After four years in the Canadian Football League, he played four years for the San Diego Chargers and then became a scout for the Oakland Raiders.

Following his days on the gridiron, he started Diversco, a business that cleans industrial plants. He has since sold the company, but he remains with it as a vice chairman.

Bill is also responsible for starting the Tiger Lettermen’s Association and in line with that, the Hudson family’s gift to Tiger Pride was for the construction of a new Tiger Lettermen Room. The facility will be built in a complex at the southwest corner of the stadium that will also house a new restaurant.

“If you love Clemson, Tiger Pride is a great opportunity to give back,” Bill said. “It is a way to show your appreciation to a university that has given all of us so much. Clemson was extremely good to my family.

Bill’s son, Alex, was a member of the 1981 National Championship team and his two daughters also graduated from Clemson: Beth in 1986 and Virginia in 1988.

“Clemson gave us to much and we wanted to give something back,” Bill said. “My scholarship came from IPTAY. My brothers’ scholarships came from IPTAY and my son’s scholarship came from IPTAY. Now it is our turn.”

Many other people other people have made generous gifts to the Tiger Pride campaign, but these are just a few that we have taken the opportunity to share with you.

Clemson Athletics can be as successful as Clemson fans want it to be,” Henderson said. “With the great vision that we have, we need everyone taking stock in Clemson whether its buying bricks or participating in a special naming opportunity in our Tiger Pride campaign.”