Cal Football Receives Seven Figure Gift from Aaron Rodgers
Cal may once again be Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood.
Or at least the locker room will be, as the former Cal Bear and current Green Bay Packers quarterback made a seven-figure donation to Cal Athletics to both renovate the football locker room and establish the Aaron Rodgers Football Scholarship.
"I’m pleased and proud to make this gift to support Cal football,” Rodgers said in a Cal release. “My years at Cal were among the best years of my life. My time in Berkeley created lasting, unforgettable memories. Coach Wilcox was on the coaching staff when I was a Bear, and I am excited about the team’s direction with Justin pointing the way. He is a tremendous football coach and an even better role model for his players. I hope that my contribution can help him move this program forward.”
This gift combines with one from Dr. Paul F. White, who contributed a six figure gift to the project as well. White is the brother of former Cal all-American Ed White, and with his wife Linda, has donated to other projects benefiting student athletes, including the Paul F. White Sports Medicine Complex at Haas Pavilion.
“Aaron Rodgers is one of the most exceptional players in the history of our football program and among the most recognizable names in the world,” athletic director Jim Knowlton said in the release. “We are tremendously proud of Aaron and grateful that he is providing this level of support to our football program, and we believe it will inspire others, as well. His generosity allows us to greatly enhance our student-athlete experience and provide a scholarship to a deserving junior college transfer. I’d also like to extend a thank you to Paul White, whose long-time support for Cal Athletics has enabled us to expand opportunities for student-athletes in countless ways.”
The locker room will bear Rodgers' name, as the 'Aaron Rodgers Team Locker Room,' where renovation is expected to be completed in time for the 2019 season. The established scholarship will be awarded to a junior college transfer, as Rodgers notably made his way to Cal from Butte College.
“We are thrilled and grateful that Aaron is making this important investment in the Cal football program,” said head coach Justin Wilcox in the release, “Aaron’s gift will help provide our student-athletes with a tremendous place to gather and prepare for all our football-related activities. It will also be great to show recruits visiting our campus a top-notch space and the level of support our program has from one of the greatest to ever play the game.”
Rodgers played two seasons at Cal, in 2003-04, taking over the starting QB job part-way through the 2003 season, and completed 424-of-665 passes for 5,469 yards with 43 touchdowns and 13 interceptions during his time in Berkeley. He holds the Cal record for passing efficiency over a career, and completed a then record 26 consecutive passes over two games in 2004, starting a game against top ranked USC with 23 consecutive completions.
“What Aaron Rodgers is doing for our team is an absolute blessing,” quarterback Chase Garbers said. “For a man who will go down as one of the greatest football players to ever play the game to make a contribution to our program of this magnitude is incredible. As Cal student-athletes we are so thankful for what he is doing. The support he is showing is inspiring. It is an absolute thrill to have a former Cal player like Aaron, a guy who we as current players look up to so much, invest in our program. We are so thankful for what he is doing.”
From Rodgers at Packers Mini-Camp
I loved my time at Cal, I loved my two years. Justin Wilcox, he was a buddy at the time, he wasn’t too much older than us JuCo guys, and to see him go from an assistant, linebacker coach, to around the country as a big time defensive coordinator, even at the University of Wisconsin, then getting him back as a head coach is very important to us as a program.
One of the first things he did is reach out to a lot of us from those 03-04 teams, brought a lot of us back into the fold, made us feel like we were a part of the program again. I think that’s the beauty of college athletics is that you can do that with the right people in charge, charismatic people who care about furthering the university’s sports programs, and as far as the football program is concerned, raising the men who are going to be great fathers, great husbands, great businessmen, and great in their community, and that’s what Justin and his staff are doing.
It’s really two parts, one is to improve the facilities there, which obviously helps them out in recruiting. The second is really a legacy thing for me, being a junior college player and being able to have a scholarship that goes to a junior college transfer really means a lot to me, because I was that guy and I think there were nine other guys in that class (JuCo guys), who were really part of turning that program around under coach Tedford.