Nov 15 2011


The Grizzly Scholarship Association’s State Board of Directors voted unanimously at its recent meeting to commit $500,000 in matching funds to the athletic facility improvement project at The University of Montana.

“Beginning now and continuing through the annual spring football game in mid-April, the GSA is asking Griz fans everywhere to commit to this project,” said Mike Persha, president of the board. “The GSA will match all new donations to the much-needed facility improvements up to $500,000.

“It is time to step up and send a message to our wonderful student-athletes,” Persha said. “The facilities they spend the bulk of their time in need to be improved. While this commitment does not complete this project by any means, it keeps the momentum going.”

The athletic facility improvement plan calls for the construction of a new student-athlete academic center, renovation of the weight room and locker room, and the installation of lights at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. A fundraising goal of $6 million has been set, with nearly $2 million already collected and pledged.

At the May 2011 meeting of the Montana Board of Regents, UM was granted approval to hire a master plan architect. A&E Architects was awarded that bid with a timeline that calls for the plan to be complete by the end of this year.

“The commitment made by the GSA State Board of Directors sends a clear message that Griz fans are firmly behind this project,” UM Athletic Director Jim O’Day said. “Through the leadership of President Royce Engstrom, improving these infrastructure facilities has been identified as a top priority.”

“These improvements directly impact student-athlete welfare and will provide the best tools possible for UM student-athletes to succeed in their competitions and academics,” Engstrom said. “I am grateful the GSA would recognize this as a need and commit their energies to making this happen.”

Supporters may commit one-time contributions to the project or pledge their support over a five-year period. All donations are fully tax-deductible and managed by the UM Foundation.

“In addition, the board decided to hold the 2012 spring football game at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, with the goal of attracting as many fans as possible,” Persha said. “We will also direct proceeds from the game to the facility improvements as well.”

The annual spring football game is typically held at various locations around the state and sponsored by GSA, a nonprofit fundraising organization with a primary focus on funding student-athlete scholarships at UM. The group also has a mission to provide private financial support to the UM athletic department.

To contribute to the project call Kent Haslam, associate athletic director for development, at 406-243-6294 or Greg Sundberg, assistant athletic director and GSA executive director, at 406-243-4509. Fans also may contribute by clicking the “Donate Now” link on the athletic department website at