Dec. 14, 2006

Alumnus Lamar Hunt Remembered for His Lifelong Support of SMU

DALLAS (SMU) – Nationally revered sports entrepreneur Lamar Hunt, a longtime supporter of Southern Methodist University and member of its Board of Trustees, died Wednesday.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Lamar Hunt,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner.  “We will miss his creative spirit and ever-hopeful attitude.  His involvement with SMU for more than 50 years, particularly in support of athletics, will always be cherished.  He has left a lasting impression on SMU, and our heart-felt sympathy and prayers go out to his family at this difficult time.”

Mr. Hunt and his wife, Norma, have given SMU more than $7.4 million, including $5.5 million in 1997 toward the construction of Gerald J. Ford Stadium and Paul B. Loyd Jr. All-Sports Center. The Hunts often were seen cheering a variety of SMU men’s and women’s athletic teams, sometimes wearing “Mustang Maniac” T-shirts, and leading the Mustang football season ticket drive. He also served as co-grand marshal of the Homecoming 2000 parade.

At the time of his gift to athletic facilities, Mr. Hunt said, “We wanted to help SMU broaden opportunities for student-athletes to fulfill their potential with the benefit of high-quality facilities and resources. With this gift, Norma and I hope to help give male and female students in all sports the best tools to develop, to succeed, and to enjoy the competition and camaraderie of intercollegiate sports.”

Born in El Dorado, Ark., Mr. Hunt grew up in Dallas and was appropriately nicknamed “Games” during his childhood. He graduated from SMU in 1956 with a Bachelor of Science degree in geology. While at SMU, he was a three-year reserve end on the football team and played third base on the freshman baseball team  He also was a member of the ROTC “Squadron F” and Kappa Sigma fraternity. In addition, he was part owner and operator of an automatic baseball game – called Zima-bat – and a miniature golf course at Yale Boulevard and North Central Expressway near the campus.

In recalling his memories of SMU, Mr. Hunt said in 1997, “My first recollection of SMU dates back to the early ’40s when, as a young boy, I went to football games on campus with my family. Throughout my secondary school years in Pennsylvania, I had a compelling desire to return to Dallas and attend SMU. As a student at SMU for five years and through the activities of my own children (three of whom attended SMU) we have perpetuated a lifetime of interest in the school.”

Mr. Hunt had been a member of the SMU Board of Trustees since 1997, the same year he received the Mustang Award for longtime service and philanthropy to the University. He received SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1973.

In addition his membership on the Board of Trustees, Mr. Hunt was a member of the Board of Directors of the SMU Athletic Forum and co-chair of the Athletics Committee. He was a member of the Executive Committee for The Campaign for SMU, which concluded in 2002, raising more than $542 million – surpassing its goal of $400 million. He also supported the “Red” McClain Athletic Scholarship Fund and the Mustang Club.

Mr. Hunt had been a member of the SMU President’s Leadership Council and the boards of the Alumni Association and the Mustang Club.

In 1953, Mr. Hunt founded the American Football League after he tried unsuccessfully to buy an NFL team.  He also founded the Dallas Texans, which he moved to Kansas City in 1963 and renamed the Chiefs. The NFL later merged with Hunt's successful AFL, giving birth to the modern league. In 1972, he became the first AFL figure inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the AFC championship trophy is named after him. And it was Hunt who coined the name Super Bowl for football’s championship game. He also was active in professional soccer and tennis, and was a minority owner of the NBA's Chicago Bulls.

Mr. Hunt’s honors and awards also included induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the U. S. Soccer Hall of Fame, the Sports Hall of Fame of Missouri and the Sports Hall of Fame of Texas.

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Kent Best
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