When family and friends gathered this past Saturday at the Collins Pavilion, they did so to honor the life of Demons Unlimited Foundation board member Craig Ryan.
Because of their financial generosity, Ryan’s memory will live on within the Northwestern State baseball program.
Just shy of 18 months after the creation of the Ryan Family Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a Demon baseball student-athlete, the grant-in-aid became the 67th permanently endowed Northwestern State athletic scholarship, reaching the benchmark $10,000 level this past weekend.
Even as he battled cancer, Ryan remained a devoted DUF board member and a proud NSU alumnus.
“Craig continued his monthly contribution to his scholarship even through being displaced from Hurricane Laura and as he underwent chemotherapy over the last year,” said NSU Deputy Athletic Director Dr. Haley Taitano. “His unwavering commitment to service is just one of the many special qualities that he blessed us with. “
Twenty-five different individuals made contributions to the Ryan Family Scholarship in Craig’s memory, because those individuals understood the importance of seeing his scholarship become permanently endowed. Contributions were made by fellow board members, fraternity brothers, members of the Black Alumni Alliance, family and friends, and that number does not include the number of individuals who purchased “Craig Ryan Day T-shirts,” made by fellow Demons Unlimited Foundation Board member Nicole Gray, to help raise money for the scholarship.
Said Taitano: “I especially want to acknowledge Nicole, who organized the Celebration of Life to honor Craig and encouraged others to donate to his scholarship. It is clear Craig touched so many people through the various organizations he was involved in, all of which had a service-oriented focus.”
Ryan’s legacy of service was honored by his friends and family, who helped make his Demon dream come true.
“On behalf of Craig, his family and friends, we are grateful for each and every contribution that helped to achieve full endowment of the Ryan Family scholarship,” said Gray, a close friend and DUF board member. “Craig’s life of service is demonstrated through his commitment to giving back to his community, alma mater, and those in need. He was so proud and humbled his NSU family and everyone who supported him.”
Ryan established the scholarship in May 2019 despite never playing for the Demons because of a career-ending knee injury that happened two days into his first practices at Northwestern State.
Despite the injury, Ryan remained active in the university community and in baseball, spending 12 years as a scout for the Houston Astros.
Ryan’s scholarship was established through the “Perpetually Purple” program, which is managed by the Demons Unlimited Foundation. Its goal is to grow the endowment, through outright donations or deferred gifts, to more than $5 million.
Earnings from the 67 permanent funds which comprise the current $2.05 million endowment total are utilized to balance the Athletic Department’s annual scholarship budget.
According to Director of Athletics Greg 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 the five-year NCAA Graduation Success Rate of NSU Athletics is at an all-time high of 82 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 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.
For more information on the Perpetually Purple program, contact Burke or Taitano at 318-357-5251.
Photo: (Left to right) NSU Director of Athletics Greg Burke, Deputy Athletic Director Dr. Haley Taitano, Craig Ryan and NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio pose after Ryan announced the creation of the Craig Ryan Baseball Scholarship in the spring of 2019. Ryan’s scholarship reached the permanently endowed level after donations from family and friends following Ryan’s death after a battle with cancer.
Credit: Submitted photo