ATHENS — While it may be difficult to fit into a headline, the University of Georgia is extremely proud to now call Scott Stricklin its “Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach.”
That’s because well-known Atlanta philanthropist and UGA swim team letterman Tom Cousins has stepped up to permanently endow the position in the name of his father, Ike, a standout baseball player of his own right in the 1920s and a big Bulldogs’ fan. The announcement was made jointly Monday by Georgia’s Greg McGarity, who had his position of athletics director permanently endowed by the J. Reid Parker family in 2013, and the Cousins family.
“All his life, Dad loved baseball and The University of Georgia,” Tom Cousins said in a news release circulated by UGA on Monday. “His Mother refused to let him attend UGA and leave the Atlanta area, so to please her he went instead to Oglethorpe under an athletic scholarship. When he died he still loved the University of Georgia and the game of baseball. I thought this would be a memorable way to honor his life and two things he cared a great deal about baseball and
The University of Georgia.”
It is the first endowed head coaching position at UGA. The school would not say how much Cousins donated for that privilege.
“We are deeply appreciative of this wonderful gift from one of our most loyal and accomplished lettermen and UGA alumni,” McGarity said. “This endowment is a unique way of honoring Tom’s father and paying tribute to his athletic accomplishments while demonstrating Tom’s commitment to the University of Georgia and our athletic program. Tom has been a remarkable advocate for the city of Atlanta not only by an interest in athletics but also in the cultural and social development of his hometown. From a personal standpoint, I cherish Tom’s friendship and am fortunate to consider him as a mentor. He is a treasure for the University of Georgia and the city of Atlanta.”
Tom Cousins is the founder and chairman of Cousins Properties Incorporated, a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). He built the Omni, Atlanta’s first sports arena, and lured pro basketball and hockey to the South. He and former Governor Carl Sanders bought the St. Louis Hawks in 1968, bringing the NBA to the Deep South for the first time. In 1972, he bought an NHL team and named it the Flames. He also donated the land for the Georgia World Congress Center.
Cousins is probably best known for acquiring East Lake Country Club and leading an initiative to revitalize the surrounding community.
Tom Cousins lettered in swimming in 1950 and ’51 and was a member of Georgia’s 400-yard freestyle relay team that won the 1950 SEC championship. He also set a Georgia school record in the 1,500-yard freestyle that same year. He holds a bachelor’s degree and an honorary degree from UGA.
Ike Cousins excelled in athletics at Oglethorpe University. A three-sport athlete, Cousins played football, baseball, and was a member of Oglethorpe’s first basketball team. During his time with the basketball team in 1925 and 1926, Oglethorpe was able to defeat Clemson, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida and Georgia.