The family of one of Northwestern State’s most iconic and beloved athletic heroes, has reached another milestone in building the Walter P. Ledet Track Scholarship, reaching the $30,000 mark in gifts to the endowment and establishing a new goal of $40,000.
Ledet, an Abbeville native, was NSU’s first All-America football player and became a legendary coaching figure and a high-ranking university administrator. He was a 1996 inductee in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. A 1938 Little All-America guard for the Demons, he joined the coaching staff of Harry Turpin the following year and was an assistant football coach until 1964. From 1952-64, he was Northwestern’s highly-successful head track and field coach whose teams won five straight Gulf States Conference championships from 1953-57, missing a sixth by half a point.
He helped shape the careers of three other Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame members from NSU: football greats Charlie Tolar, Charlie Hennigan and Jackie Smith, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who came to the Demons on a track scholarship as a hurdler. He passed away in 2010 at the age of 93.
Ledet and his family initially created a $10,000 endowed scholarship and in 2015 more than doubled it to over $20,000. With a recent $2,500 contribution by Coach Ledet’s wife, Betty, and other contributions from the family, the Ledet Scholarship has reached the $30,000 level.
That places the endowment among the top 12 supporting Northwestern State student-athletes.
NSU associate athletics director Dr. Haley Taitano, the former school record-holder in the women’s pole vault during her competitive career from 2002-06, has a special appreciation for the Ledet family.
“I was one of those track and field student-athletes who benefitted from the Ledet Scholarship so now it is extremely gratifying to stay in touch with Mrs. Betty and the family, and to experience their determination to grow the endowment to benefit even more student-athletes going forward,” said Taitano.
The gifts support the “Perpetually Purple” program encouraging supporters to enhance an endowment fund which provides essential resources for the continuing success of NSU Athletics.
The Perpetually Purple program is managed by the Demons Unlimited Foundation, with a goal to grow the endowment, through outright donations or deferred gifts, over the next five years from $1.9 million to over $5 million, said NSU director of athletics Greg Burke.
“The NSU athletic program – its’ student-athletes, coaches, and staff – is appreciative of the ongoing growth of the Perpetually Purple endowment fund,” said Burke. “While new scholarships continue to be established at a steady rate, it is also positive that donors and family members for existing scholarships – such as the Ledet Family – remain focused on growing their fund to further maximize the impact it will have on NSU student-athletes in the future.”
Earnings from the 57 permanent funds which comprise the current $1.9 million endowment total are utilized to balance the Athletic Department’s annual scholarship budget. According to Burke, “Current endowment funding ensures that all 14 NSU sports can continue offering the maximum number of scholarships permitted by NCAA guidelines. Being able to do so is paramount to sustaining a high level of competitiveness but more importantly, continues to provide opportunities for young people to receive a scholarship which can lead to earning a college degree. Based on the fact that the five-year NCAA Graduation Success Rate of NSU Athletics is nearly 80 percent over the past five years, endowment funds are a worthwhile investment.”
A fundamental goal of the initial push is to reach the $5 million milestone, allowing the endowment to completely underwrite book scholarships for all NSU student-athletes, an expense currently paid by annual gifts to the DUF, he said. Annual gift revenues will then be redirected to more significantly enhance facilities, bolster recruiting budgets, retain or hire outstanding coaches, and offset ever-increasing scholarship costs.
A minimum commitment of $10,000 is required to create an endowment fund. It can be established with an outright gift such as cash, a stock transfer or property sale, a life insurance policy, or can be included as a provision in a will or bequest. Arrangements can be made to fund an endowment over an extended period of time.
The option to include NSU in a will or bequest makes such a gift feasible for any Demon supporter, Burke.
“There are supporters who may never have considered that option, and would find it very appealing,” he said. “Some people can contribute more on a deferred basis through a will, bequest or insurance policy than they could ever imagine doing currently.”
The endowment principle remains intact for perpetuity with a maximum of five percent interest income used for the intent designated by the donor who establishes the fund.
All scholarship endowment donors are invited to NSU Athletics’ annual Scholarship Banquet to have dinner with the recipients of their scholarships. That event allowed Taitano to meet the Ledets during her competitive career.
Burke and Taitano are available to provide additional information and discuss the Perpetually Purple program. They can be reached by calling NSU Athletics at 318-357-5251, or by email: Burke (email@example.com) or Taitano (firstname.lastname@example.org).
More information is also available at NSUDemons.com/endowments online.