If having their name on Tulane’s new football field wasn’t already enough, the bond between the Benson family and Tulane grew even stronger Tuesday when Gayle Benson was named to the Tulane University Board of Directors.
Gayle Benson, the wife of New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, is described as a philanthropist and former interior designer in the university’s official release.
“Mrs. Benson will be a tremendous asset to Tulane University, as well as the Tulane family,” football coach Curtis Johnson said. “She is a very intelligent, generous and kind lady who was very instrumental in the Saints’ success.
“The Bensons are a wonderful family, and are huge proponents of the university and our football program. I am especially happy to have them as a member of our team.”
Together, the Bensons gave Tulane’s athletics department a $7.5 million donation toward the construction of Yulman Stadium, which will include the name “Benson Field” emblazoned on the playing surface.
That gift highlighted a growing partnership between the Saints and Tulane, which included the hiring of Johnson (who served as the Saints wide receivers coach from 2006 through 2011), as Green Wave coach in 2012 and stretched into allowing the Green Wave to practice at the franchise’s indoor facility in Metairie for free during Yulman’s construction.
Meanwhile, both Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees and his nonprofit Brees Dream Foundation were among the top 16 donors to the Tulane Athletics Fund in the 2012-2013 academic year, giving more than $25,000 to the Green Wave each.
Tulane and the Saints shared a playing home in the Superdome from 1975 through 2013 but have rarely been as supportive of each other as the current regimes are.
“As a New Orleans native, I have always been proud of Tulane’s role as one of the country’s leading universities. I now cherish the opportunity to help shape its future,” Gayle Benson said. “I know it is a future of even greater achievement and renown as we educate and serve New Orleans.”
The addition of Gail Benson to the Board of Tulane makes the second significant NFL connection at the highest levels of Tulane University. Jill Henkin Glazer — the wife of Avi Glazer, whose father Malcolm Glazer owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - has been a board member since 2009.
The Glazer Family’s multi-million dollar gift to Yulman Stadium came with the naming rights to the building’s most prestigious club section.
Back on TV
Tulane fans will have the chance to break down each game of the 2014 season with coach Curtis Johnson on WWL-TV each Sunday night in the fall.
New Orleans’ CBS affiliate announced the return of a Tulane Coach’s Show by airing commercials during the NCAA Men’s Basketball championship game on Monday night.
Tulane has been without a coach’s show since Bob Toledo hosted one on Cox Sports Television in 2009.