Endowed Oliphant Scholarship hits $40K mark

Another year of philanthropy from the Natchitoches community has the James L. Oliphant Scholarship nearing another milestone.

The 13th annual James Oliphant Memorial Golf Tournament was held earlier this month at Northwestern Hills Golf Course and the nearly 60 golfers helped raise $6,000 for the football scholarship named for a former Natchitoches Parish basketball, football, and track and field coach who passed away Oct. 19, 1988.

Since then, Oliphant’s daughter, Nicole Gray, has worked to honor her father’s legacy, combining his love of sports with a passion for education and mentoring student-athletes.

With the latest donation from its annual golf tournament, the Oliphant Scholarship became the 14th athletic scholarship at NSU endowed at a $40,000 or above level.

“Each year, we have an amazing time and the outpouring of support from the community and our donors is unmatched,” Gray said. “We couldn’t do this without the sponsors or the golfers who play each year. We are so grateful to each of them.”

Added Director of Athletics Kevin Bostian: “Nicole and her family’s decision to establish the James L. Oliphant Scholarship has been an appropriate way to honor her father’s legacy. As the first minority-established endowed scholarship at Northwestern State, it stands as a tribute to what coach Oliphant stood for and the impact he made on young men and women in this area. Their generosity has continued to allow student-athletes and Northwestern State to enjoy their experience while furthering their education and paving a way for a successful future.”

Gray — along with the support of her uncle Odell Oliphant, an avid golfer — established the scholarship in 2008, 20 years after her father’s death.

Thanks to the generosity of sponsors such as title sponsor International Paper – Red River Mill, Sustainability Partners, and Coushatta Mayor Johnny Cox, along with additional benefactors Howard Conday Law Firm, Winterhaven Professional Counseling, SharpCo Hotels, BOM, Complete Title Services, Ben Johnson Educational Center, the Demons Unlimited Foundation, Eagle Distributing, Small Boyz Trucking, Washington & Wells Law Firm, Wholesale Electric Supply, DB White Services, Legacy Café, Carlos Treadway and Moffett Oil, the majority of the annual tournament’s operating expenses are defrayed, allowing the scholarship to grow at a steady rate.

The Oliphant Scholarship is one of more than 80 funded through the Perpetually Purple program, which allows NSU to provide a sustainable source of scholarship funding that is separate from efforts to supplement the annual athletics program budget with donations, corporate partnerships and special fund-raising events.

“We cannot thank Nicole Gray, her friends, and family enough for their love and passion for NSU Athletics,” NSU Assistant Athletic Director for Development Ryan Hall said. “To build such a wonderful golf tournament to honor her late father is special in itself. However, to give the proceeds back to NSU Athletics through a scholarship in his name shows why NSU is so special to so many and how truly lucky we are to have alumnae like Nicole involved.”

A minimum commitment of $10,000 is required to create an endowment fund, but that fund can start from any initial outright gift.

Endowments 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 Demons Unlimited Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity supporting NSU Athletics through scholarship funding for all 14 sports, facility enhancement, student-athlete recruiting efforts, and coach retention performance bonuses among other methods.

To donate to the James L. Oliphant Scholarship, contact Hall at hallr@nsula.edu or by calling 318-357-4560.

Photo: Lauren Krupica/NSU Athletics