The cash-strapped UNO athletic program ((pictured, thanks Eliot Kamenitz/NO Times-Picayune)), which faced the possibility of elimination earlier this year because of state budget cuts, might have found a lifeline from a local sports enthusiast.
UNO sports information director Rob Broussard confirmed Thursday night that the Privateers athletic program will receive "millions" of dollars from Logan Wickliffe "Wick" Cary Jr.'s estate. Cary died May 11th at 79, leaving a fortune reportedly valued at $150 million.
Cary stipulated several university athletic departments to receive percentages of his estate, including Tulane and LSU, Tulane assistant athletic director/athletic communications director Roger Dunaway said. But UNO and University of Oklahoma are reported to receive one-third portions -- higher than the rest.
"He has left a lot of money to UNO, to exactly where I don't know yet," Broussard said. "It's going to be a long process, it's a big estate. It could take a long time to distribute. . . . I don't know of any specific number with regard to money (UNO would receive), but we are talking millions, not million."
Broussard and Dunaway both thought it was misleading to assume all the estate would be split among the universities.
"That $150 million figure to our knowledge isn't just meant for the universities involved," Dunaway said. "We assume there are other family members and beneficiaries of the estate. We don't know how many (beneficiaries) are involved.
"We have been contacted by the lawyer settling his estate, but it is in the preliminary stage. . . . Rick (Dickson, Tulane athletic director) said it might be 2010 before the estate is settled. It's very premature for us to estimate how much Tulane will receive."
The news of the windfall was received as the state legislature was finishing deliberations on where to make cuts. UNO was a target for $15 million in cuts that threatened the existence of several of the University's programs, including athletics. But school officials were hoping the state would rethink the cuts across the University's budget.
New Orleans Hornets owner George Shinn pledged to help the program, and drummed up enough support that UNO announced it expected to have enough money to fund athletics for at least one more year. But Thursday's news seemed to abate the cost-cutting worries for both UNO and Tulane.
The man who bequeathed the money is something of a local legend. He often dined at Joey K's on Magazine St., according to his obit, as well as developing a vast network of friends.
Dickson remembers seeing Cary at Green Wave athletic events, Dunaway said.
Cary graduated from Yale in 1952 with a degree in mechanical engineering and received a masters in geophysics from Oklahoma before moving to New Orleans in 1960. He amassed his fortune mostly by working for AMOCO and thriving in various oil ventures.
"It's great news for us -- really it's great news for anyone in this economic crisis, especially for UNO," Dunaway said.