Florida Tech Introduces Football Founders Club

12 Donors Lay Critical Foundation for Future Fundraising

A dozen donors have pledged to help launch a new era for Florida Tech Athletics. At a special “Inside the Huddle” football banquet May 25, President Anthony J. Catanese introduced and honored members of the Panthers Football Founders Club.

“These outstanding individuals have demonstrated their support not only for football, but also for Florida Tech and for our community,” Catanese said. “We are honored by their contributions and grateful for their leadership.”

The dozen donors collectively committed $1.2 million to help launch the new football program, which begins competitive play as a member of the Gulf South Conference in Fall 2013.

“Successfully establishing our Founders Club was a critical first step in building our football boosters effort,” said T. Dwayne McCay, chief operating officer and executive vice president. “This gives us tremendous community momentum as we look forward to kick off in 2013.”

In addition to honoring the Founders Club the May 25 banquet, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi of Melbourne, also featured legendary football coach Howard Schnellenberger as keynote speaker. Schnellenberger won two Super Bowls and four national championships in five decades as an NFL and NCAA coach. He coached under Paul “Bear” Bryant at the University of Alabama, served as the offensive coordinator during the Miami Dolphins’ 17-0 season, led the University of Miami to its first national title and built Florida Atlantic University’s football program when Catanese was FAU president.

Also at the banquet, Head Football Coach Steve Englehart gave an overview of the program’s development as the Panthers approach 2013, and season tickets were available for the first time.

“We continue to welcome additional support from the community,” said Matt Kilcullen Jr., assistant vice president for athletic fundraising. “This is a terrific time to invest in the future of Florida Tech Athletics.”

For additional information on athletic fundraising, contact Kilcullen at mkilcullen@fit.edu or (321) 674-8427.

Founders Club Members and Quotes:

Stephen K. Badolato, M.D., Premier Sports Medicine:
“This is a remarkable time in the history of the Florida Tech Panthers athletic program. The chance to support the new football program is an honor and privilege. The advent of Panther Football is exciting for our community and will be sure to add even more members to an already loyal fan base. This is a unique opportunity to support a program that will shed even more light on one of the best academic universities in the entire country, right here in our own backyard.”

Thomas Biddix, Biddix Charity Foundation:
“My wife and I are honored and proud to be part of this FIT major milestone. With our three boys born and raised in Brevard County, this is something they will cherish forever.”

Carol Craig, Craig Technologies:
“It’s exciting to be in on the ground floor of the next step in Florida Tech’s evolution. I’m pleased to support football at our hometown university.”

John Fielding:
“Having grown up in this area, I have firsthand knowledge of the positive influence Florida Tech has on this community. It has undertaken every endeavor with the highest level of commitment and perseverance. I am proud to be even a small part of its introduction of college football to Brevard County. As dictated by its rich history, I am confident that Florida Tech will achieve a highly successful program with exhaustive dedication and community support.”

Chip Lafferty, Hill York:
“An excellent university plays a major role in the overall well-being of the community in which it resides. Florida Institute of Technology is one such university! With a curriculum that has a major orientation in the aerospace industry, FIT enriches the lives of the citizens and businesses of Brevard County. A strong football team is one more key to rounding out the cohesive role that FIT serves in the community. As a local business interested in Making Life More Comfortable for the community’s citizens, Hill York considers it a privilege to be a member of the Football Founders Club.”

Bruce Nelson Jr., Brevard County Hyundai:
“I am very excited about the addition of college football at FIT and being a part of getting it up and running! This will have a very positive impact not only for the students and the campus community, but for everyone who lives in Brevard County.”

Steve Ryland, Beachside Health Studio:
“This is good for Florida Tech and it’s good for Brevard. Panther football will be an excellent addition to our community.”

Mahesh “Mike” Shah, Southeast Petro Distributors, Inc./M&R Enterprises, Inc.:
“I am very much excited and feel privileged that I was asked to be a part of football’s start at FIT—a team sport that is action-packed. Go Panthers!”

Scott Sorensen, Sorensen Corporation:
“Brevard is a dynamic community, and creating a football program at Florida Tech is something that everyone can get excited about. I look forward to the positive impact it will have both economically and socially.”

Mike Valletutti:
“Having grown up in Merritt Island and returning after college, I jumped at the chance to help FIT build a football program. Sports bring in away visitors for games, exposing them to our wonderful community, which leads to an increase in our county’s population. And I can’t think of a more football-friendly area than Brevard County.”

Tony Weight:
“Football is a natural for Florida Tech. Having seen firsthand what Dr. Catanese accomplished with Coach Schnellenberger at FAU, there isn’t any doubt in my mind that he and Coach Englehart can accomplish the same type of success at FIT! I am thrilled to be a part of it!”

Mike Williams, M. H. Williams Construction Group, Inc.:
“Florida Tech is a growing institution and resource not only for Central Florida, but for the world. Building a first-class football program at a world-class university will benefit everyone.”

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