Press Release for Wednesday, March 24, 2010

THE PLAYERS Championship Contributes $250K to First Generation Scholarships

Joanna Norris, Assistant Director

Department of Media Relations and Events

(904) 620-2102




The University of North Florida has received a $250,000 gift from THE PLAYERS Championship Charities Inc. to provide First Generation scholarships to students who are first in their families to go to college.


THE PLAYERS has made a five-year commitment to provide scholarships to the University, which will be matched by the state on a dollar-for-dollar basis, doubling the impact of the gift to $500,000. In return, UNF has named the organization as the title sponsor for the annual scholarship luncheon, beginning in 2011.


Jay Monahan, executive director of THE PLAYERS Championship, said the scholarship donation presents an opportunity to change lives. “The scholarship gives first generation students an opportunity for a world-class education while also giving us an opportunity to have a significant impact on the community since so many UNF graduates remain in the area to pursue careers.”


During the annual First Generation Scholarship luncheon today at the University Center on the UNF campus, it was also announced that EverBank Financial Corp. has committed $250,000 over a five-year period.


The $1 million commitment from THE PLAYERS and EverBank will go towards The Power of Transformation campaign, which is a multi-year endeavor to raise $110 million to enhance the quality of education at UNF, with a primary focus on raising additional funds for scholarship assistance. To date, the campaign has raised $69 million.


Pierre Allaire, vice president of Institutional Advancement at UNF, praised THE PLAYERS for the latest in a series of gifts to UNF. “Over the years, THE PLAYERS Championship has demonstrated a commitment to education in general and UNF in particular which will pay dividends for generations of our students.”


Monahan said the First Generation Scholarship program is a natural investment for THE PLAYERS because of the ever-growing relationship with UNF students and its graduates. “UNF is part of the bedrock of this community and its students and alumni are an important part of THE PLAYERS,” he said. “UNF graduates, today and in the future, comprise spectators who attend the annual tournament, leading business executives that are sponsors and the volunteers who make the event and our charitable outcome a reality each year.”


One student whose life has been transformed by the First Generation Scholarship program is UNF junior Marvin Metheny, who is a 40-year-old non-traditional student who served as a soldier in the U.S. Army. He was born with a tumor on his pituitary gland and five years ago, he underwent surgery to remove the tumor that was placing pressure on his optic nerves. Tragically, he woke up from surgery completely blind.


He admits to a certain degree of shock and dejection but also knew he had to get on with his life. After asking himself some hard questions, he realized that he was going to have to do something no one else in his family had ever done before—get a college education.


“One might assume that my toughest obstacle is my blindness, but I have elected to channel it into a challenge rather than an obstacle,” said Metheny. During his speech today at the scholarship luncheon he expressed his gratitude to donors. “The gift of education is priceless and on behalf of the more than 750 students at UNF who have received this scholarship, thank you.”

Metheny, who has maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average at UNF, is pursuing a degree in psychology with aspirations of providing counseling to servicemen and women who have incurred vision loss while serving our nation.


In addition to the First Generation Scholarship program, THE PLAYERS has a long history of contributions to UNF including the establishment of the Osprey Hall of Fame, which entailed substantial renovations at the UNF Arena. The organization has also been involved in funding the First Tee program at the Hayt Golf Learning Center on campus. The donation to the First Generation Program means THE PLAYERS has donated more than $1 million to UNF, making it a member of the University’s elite Founders Society.


THE PLAYERS Championship annually combines the best field in golf with the world-class venue that is THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. UBS, PricewaterhouseCoopers and JELD-WEN are the exclusive Proud Partners of THE PLAYERS. Proceeds from THE PLAYERS benefit Northeast Florida charities. Since 1977, when THE PLAYERS Championship moved to Ponte Vedra, more than $35 million has been contributed to Northeast Florida charities, including a record $4.15 million donation in 2009.