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Otis Ferguson IV stood up in front reporters and photographers at the Langston Golf Course on Monday afternoon as NBA superstar Stephen Curry heaped praise on him from a makeshift stage. Eight months ago, the Howard University senior walked up to Curry after the screening of the documentary, “Emanuel,” at the school and took a chance.
The two spoke about their shared love for golf, and Ferguson explained that his idea of starting a golf club at Howard had failed. That conversation sparked a vision for Curry, and on Monday, the university announced that it would launch its first Division I golf program next year with financial backing from the two-time NBA MVP.
“My dad got me into the game when I was 10 years old,” Curry said Monday during a press conference alongside Ferguson, Howard University president Wayne A. I. Frederick, and athletic director Kery Davis. “Bridging that part of my relationship with the game into creating this opportunity with Howard, to provide scholarships for men and women to play the game, to go to Howard, to invest in their education, and be a part of this amazing university that I’ve heard so many things about, it’s just exciting to be a part of that mission, that journey, that process.”
Howard University plans to debut the Division I men’s and women’s varsity golf teams in the 2020-21 academic year. The Bison have previously only had Division II and intramural club teams for the sport.
Frederick called the partnership with Curry “a historic opportunity for not just Howard, but I think all historically black colleges and universities.”
Davis said that there will be three scholarships for the inaugural year, two on the women’s side and one for the men’s team. He added that Curry has agreed to work with the school to raise money for endowment for the program that can go on in perpetuity, which he believes will amount to between $6 to $8 million.
Davis declined to say how much Curry donated but the Post reported that Curry’s team will make a seven-figure donation paid out over the next six years in order to give the school enough time to raise an endowed fund.
“I don’t like to talk about anybody else’s wallet, but let’s just say this, he is putting up enough that we will be able to, in the first year, hire a coach and spend the necessary resources to create and develop a team starting in 2021,” Davis said. “He is also putting up enough to pay the operating and scholarship expenses for that team on both the men’s and women’s side for the next five years after that … Put it like this, it’s more than a little.”
The team’s home has yet to be determined, but Langston Golf Course members hope their facility, which is facing an uncertain future, can play a role. Curry and Howard University chose the location for Monday’s announcement because of its history as one of the nation’s earliest integrated golf courses.
“I think it’s something that’s been, in my mind, overdue,” says Ray Savoy, the 76-year-old director and founder of the Langston Junior Boys and Girls Golf Club. “It takes people who are in certain status to care and be willing to share and help … That announcement has been a big plus for the Howard University, I would think, and for the game of golf.”