The Donor that Keeps on Giving
A collegiate athletic department can only go so far without the help of financial donors from the community.
Tunney Murchie has donated over $1.2 million to the athletic department on behalf of the Murchie family since 2009. Tunney is a former scholarship ice hockey player who received his bachelors from UB in 1975 and his MBA the following year.
"One of the reasons I'm having the good success that I am is because I was educated at UB and I was recruited by Coach Ed Wright to play hockey for the university," Tunney said. "I don't forget people who have helped me or things that have helped me and I've had some good fortunes because of that."
Interim director John Lambert is in charge of determining where the money will be spent.
Lambert decided to use the $220,000 donation Murchie gave in 2009 to renovate the triple gym. Once Tunney learned where the money would be spent, he ensured it would be named the Edward L. Wright Practice Facility after the coach that recruited him.
"I wanted that because he was one of best coaches," Tunney said. "When it came down to where they wanted to allocate the donation, rather than connect it to [Murchie] we decided to bring attention to Coach Ed Wright. He's worked for 40 years at this school."
Tunney has remained active in the athletic department in addition to giving financial support. He's had a suite at football games since 1999 and has courtside seats to both men's and women's basketball.
Not only did Tunney graduate from UB, but his wife and son also have degrees from UB. Because of the time spent at UB, and in the community he understands how important financial support as well as attending games is to the success of an athletic department.
"Tunney was a former student-athlete and understands that private, philanthropic support is needed in order for athletic departments to build championship-caliber programs," Lambert said in an email. "The entire Murchie Family is supportive of UB Athletics and we are grateful for their past and continued support."
Buffalo has won three Mid-American Conference titles in the last five years after not winning any in its first nine years in the MAC. The recent success of the athletic program is in part due to donations like Tunney's.
"What teams do on and off the fields of play help to showcase the impact of donor gifts," Lambert said. "You witness donor dollars at work when our student-athletes achieve excellence in the classroom and our teams win championships. From facility renovations to tutoring and student-athlete development programs, private donations help our teams flourish."
The department's response to the donations has been great. Murchie's son, Nevin Murchie sees firsthand from attending the sporting events, which makes Tunney's decision to continue donating an easy one.
"I think it's overwhelming," Nevin said. "I think that's why he continues to give because he's seen how motivated and how excited the department is and how grateful they are. It makes it that much easier for him to give that department. They work closely with him and he really enjoys the people there."
After playing for the ice hockey team, Tunney was an assistant coach and still has a passion for collegiate sports. He also made a $50,000 donation to the club ice hockey team last year and has been in talks with their director of hockey Matthew Baumgarten to help make the program a varsity sport.
Nevin also feels that being around the university and more specifically the athletic department brings up some nostalgia.
"That's why it's so easy for him to do it. He likes college athletics actually more than he likes professional because there's a lot of heart from the kids. He played college sports so it may actually bring him back."
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