Vivians donate $250,000 to BGSU hockey, arena campaign
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Written by Kevin Gordon Sentinel Assistant Sports EditorVi
Monday, 16 November 2009 12:05
Jack Vivian is synonymous with Falcon hockey and Bowling Green.
|Jack Vivian (left) talks with BG athletics director Greg Christopher. (Photo: Kara Fallon/ BGSU Marketing and Communication Office)
The first head coach in the history of the Falcon program added to his legacy Saturday.
Vivian and his wife, Elaine, have donated $250,000 to the university’s new fundraising campaign to support the Falcon hockey program and the BGSU Ice Arena.
The Vivians are the first major donor to the "Bring Back the Glory Campaign," which began last month to raise $5 million to endow scholarships to the program and enhance the arena.
The gift will be officially announced tonight during a reception honoring the 1969 and 1984 Falcon teams prior to BG's game against Alaska.
The 1969 team was the first varsity team at BG and is celebrating its 40th anniversary, although it played the two previous seasons at the club level. The 1984 Falcons won the NCAA championship.
"I got my start here, two of my children were born here and this place took me to professional hockey all the way to the Stanley Cup," Vivian said. "Everywhere I go, people say, 'you helped start the Bowling Green program. That's a great program.’ It's enhanced my career in ways that are not easy to describe."
The Falcons were 112-62-10 under Vivian and beat traditional NCAA power Wisconsin twice during their club seasons.
He also was an assistant professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation when he was the head coach. He left in 1973 to become the general manager of the Cleveland Crusaders in the now-defunct World Hockey Association and coached the team in 1974.
Vivian joined the NHL's New York Islanders in 1976 as a scout, and the Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups (1980-83).
He returned to BG in 1986 as an assistant professor, teaching sport management, marketing, promotions, facility operations and management.
In addition to helping build the BG program, Vivian was instrumental in forming the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and served as its first commissioner.
He is CEO of JRV Consulting, a firm specializing in ice arena construction, operation and management. He's one of the nation's leading experts in ice arena management and is known as "Dr. Ice."
The Vivians are planning to move back to BG in the near future.
"My (doctorate) from Bowling Green is worth a lot of money, if you broke it into dollars. I still have a lot of friends here," Vivian said. "This is about returning, giving back, a love for Bowling Green, not only the hockey, but it's more than that. It's the community, the figure skating. I still stay in touch with Scott Hamilton (a BG native who was an Olympic figure skating champion). I have great respect for the people here."
The gift was the second major donation from the Vivians, who endowed a Falcon hockey scholarship about 10 years ago.
“Jack Vivian established hockey at BGSU and has been a tremendous supporter over the years,” school president Carol Cartwright said. “I don't think anyone is surprised that he was the first to step forward with a gift for the campaign. We greatly appreciate his leadership and passion for the program."
Last spring, the Falcon hockey program was targeted for possible elimination after this season by the university and the athletics department to help reduce a large budget deficit.
And there were those who believed if the Falcon program was cut, the closing of the arena would soon follow.
"I can't imagine BGSU and the community without hockey and the arena," Vivian said. "That's why I want to support the program and work in concert with the university, former players and the community to restore the arena to its former status so the next generation can enjoy skating and hockey.”
Since winning the NCAA championship, the Falcons have fallen on hard times and haven't had a winning record overall since 1997. They’ve had a winning record in the CCHA just once in the last 13 seasons.
The arena has become one of the worst in college hockey because it has been neglected by school officials for almost 20 years.
Vivian is hoping his donation will "get the ball rolling" for the campaign.
The university has committed $4 million in school and state capital monies to the renovation of the arena, including the updating of compressors, chillers and infrastructure. Additional improvements will be considered based on the arena's business performance and the interest of private donors in supporting the arena.
“Jack's gift represents much more than just a financial contribution,” said Marcia Latta, interim vice president for university advancement who is overseeing the campaign. “He understands the rich history of our program and what it means both to the university and the city of Bowling Green. He is well respected by our former players, alumni and supporters. With Jack's backing, I think we'll see an outpouring of support from the hockey community.”
The university's possible elimination of the Falcon program and the uncertain future of the arena has created hard feelings among Falcon hockey alumni and supporters of the program, as well as the community and other groups which use the arena.
"The negative feelings of people, the adverse feelings towards the university and the people here at the university, that's gotten too far out of hand," Vivian said. "We have to forget that and put everything behind us and move forward.
"I'm going to pick up the wounded and move on. We have to do our part now. Dr. Cartwright is clearly behind this. She wants this to succeed."
Last Updated on Monday, 16 November 2009 12:08