Skip to content

Three Huskies teams get huge boost

Ron and Jane Graham are USask athletics boosters

SASKATOON — Ron and Jane Graham are Huskies through and through. Both are University of Saskatchewan graduates with Ron earning a degree in engineering and Jean education. The couple, both inducted into the USask Hall of Fame in 2007, also donned the Green and White as a quarterback and swimmer.

That’s why it is fitting that the couple, one of USask’s generous donors, gave the Huskies’ athletics program $3 million that will be equally divided between the men’s and women’s basketball teams and the football squad. The announcement was made Friday morning at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites.

The $3 million is part of a whopping $5.9 million total donation to USask where $1 million each will be given to the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization and the College of Education, and $900,000 to the College of Engineering.

Jane and Ron Graham are the largest cumulative alumni donors in USask’s history. They have been known as longtime Huskies fans and can be seen cheering for the green and white during the season.

“We bleed green,” said Jean, wearing a green dress, and her husband was garbed in a sport coat that has the USask logo and the image of Huskies mascot Howler the Huskie.

“Jane and I have always had a passion for helping students and signature areas at USask. Giving to Huskie athletes, funding innovative research, and enhancing teaching and career prospects is something we are proud to support,” added Ron.

Each team is expected to use the funding to purchase the latest equipment and technology to enhance their training, fund coaching support and explore new travel opportunities for international competitions and skill development.

“Hopefully, it'll be [also] for nutrition, which is our main focus. But the coaches are closer to the program so they will indicate where they prefer [the money] to go. Tutoring is another option that is there. They will also have some needs. In other areas, but we have high degree of confidence that the coaches will choose what's best for their students and their players,” said Ron.

“We actually see the teams play in other parts of the country. In that point of view, we go and see what's going on in their world and then that'll continue on.”

Libby Epoch from Moose Jaw benefited from the previous gifts by the Grahams. The 5-foot-7 playmaker said she did not only represent the Husky women’s basketball team but also the entire Husky athletics program — all the coaches, athletes and students — who are thankful for their donations.

“Obviously, I share a passion for sport and the game of basketball with Ron and Jane. They are two of our biggest and most loyal fans. Ron and Jane also competed as student athletes; Jean as a swimmer and fencer and Ron as starting quarterback,” said Epoch, who is in her final year in the College of Engineering.

She said the donation creates countless opportunities to new students.

“I know my fellow student athletes, who are pursuing a degree, are very excited about this. It means so much for their studies.”

Huskies Chief Athletics Officer Shannon Chinn, who is the first woman appointed since Pat Jackson in 1973, told SASKTODAY that the donation given by the Grahams is an amazing gift to USask’s athletics program.

“Our programs can’t run without this generous donation that we get from them. It's game changing for our students. One of the most significant ones is hiring a full-time assistant coach that they continue to find. They just keep adding on another layer of things that the coaches identify that will help their athletes compete at a higher level.”

Training basketball courts at the Merlis Belsher Place, the Ron and Jane Graham Sport Science and Health Centre at Merlis Belsher Place and expanding the Graham Huskie Clubhouse at Griffiths Stadium are the other projects funded by the couple. The gymnasium floor at the Physical Activity Complex at the USask campus was also redesigned and named the Ron and Jane Graham Centre Court in 2018 as a recognition pf their contributions.