A half century ago, it was the team that ignited a championship tradition in Eastern Kentucky University football.
Now, a $250,000 donation from a member of the 1967 Grantland Rice Bowl champions, the largest single gift commitment ever to the EKU football program, will not only remember those pioneers but help pave the way for future gridiron success at Eastern.
Ted Green, who graduated from EKU in 1970 and went on to a highly successful business career, gave the gift to dedicate the new football locker room to the ’67 team, which went 8-1-2 and toppled Ball State University 27-13 in its bowl game. Eastern went on to win national I-AA titles in 1979 and 1982 (and finish as runners-up in 1980 and 1981), but the ’67 team is just as fondly remembered today.
“The Grantland Rice Bowl team was a group of guys that were all fortunate to arrive at EKU for various reasons and formed a very close team,” Green recalled. “We only had four or five superstars. The rest of us worked very hard to be the best we could be. We are all very proud of putting the program on the map.”
EKU Director of Athletics Stephen Lochmueller said: “It is incredibly meaningful that former EKU football players like Ted recognize Head Coach Mark Elder’s vision to return the program to national prominence, and want to support that plan with very generous financial gifts. Simple words can’t fully convey the appreciation we have for Ted’s generosity. We can’t wait to have Ted and his 1967 Grantland Rice Bowl champion teammates back on campus on the weekend of Sept. 23 (when the Colonels host conference rival Tennessee Tech) so that we can all express what this gift means to EKU football. We are all looking forward to the formal dedication of the new football locker room in this team’s honor.”
Green’s gift will primarily be used to purchase “the best of the best” lockers and “enhance the space to give our players an elite locker room experience,” according to Austin Newton, assistant athletics director for development. “It will make the locker room one of the premier facilities in the country for many years to come.” A plaque in the facility will recognize the ’67 team.
The locker room is part of the expansion project on the east side of Roy Kidd Stadium, which is expected to open this fall and feature more than 3,000 new bleacher seats and a concourse with modern concessions and restroom facilities. The first floor is dedicated to the benefit of Colonel football student-athletes and will include the locker room, team lounge, equipment room and game-day training area.
“We can’t thank Ted enough for his leadership to significantly help EKU Football return to the top of college football,” said Colonel Coach Mark Elder.
When Green arrived on the Richmond campus from Atlanta in 1966, “there were only one or two other people from Georgia. That number has increased,” he noted, “and Atlanta became a place for graduates, especially teachers, to land.” Green became involved with the University’s alumni association in the’90s, serving a number of years as president of the Atlanta Area Alumni Chapter. “By then, there were several hundred alumni in the greater Atlanta area. It was good to be able to network with some of the younger grads and help them get settled.”
In addition to his service to the alumni association, Green has been an active member of the University’s Worn Cleat Club. He continues to stay in touch with many of his former teammates and with Coach Roy Kidd, who went on to win 314 games and earn induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. “Many of the ’67 team come back to campus once or twice a year. It’s always good to spend time with them. Coach Kidd has been the glue that has held us together. In addition, we have gotten to know a lot of the players from subsequent teams.”
Green earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from EKU and, since 1991, has served as president and chief executive officer of Sterling Independent Services Inc. and as administrator of the Sterling Institutional Review Board, which was established to protect the safety and welfare of human subjects who participate in clinical research. He was inducted into the EKU Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2004.