A $15 million gift in honor of late Tar Heel great Bill Koman will prepare Carolina football players for life after graduation.
As football head coach Mack Brown likes to say, “Coming to Carolina is a 40-year decision, not a four-year decision.”
Two generations of the Koman family certainly embody that philosophy.
The late William J. “Bill” Koman Sr. ’56 played linebacker for Carolina in the 1950s. After his 12-year NFL career with the Baltimore Colts, St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles, he founded The Koman Group, a commercial and residential property development company with projects across the St. Louis, Missouri, metropolitan area. He and his wife, Joan, gave generously to Carolina during his lifetime, most prominently to sports medicine research and a fund that pays undergraduate students participating in summer internships.
Today, UNC-Chapel Hill Athletics and The Rams Club announced a $15 million gift from the Komans’ son, Jim, and his wife, Jennifer, of St. Louis to the Carolina football program — the largest single gift in the history of The Rams Club and Carolina Athletics.
The gift honors Bill, who passed away in November 2019, by funding the Bill Koman Game Plan for Success, a comprehensive development program that will prepare Carolina football players for life after graduation. Programming will center on preparing student-athletes for their college career and beyond through academic reassessment, study and learning skills preparation, leadership development, community involvement and career opportunities.
“Jim and Jennifer Koman’s generosity will enable our Tar Heel student-athletes to take advantage of every facet of Carolina’s uniquely student-centered experience,” said Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz. “This gift will empower us to further integrate Carolina’s strengths in academics, athletics, professional development and community involvement to better serve our students, our state, our nation and the world. It is a truly meaningful way to honor the legacy of Bill Koman and we are deeply grateful for it.”
In addition to the Bill Koman Game Plan for Success, Carolina’s new practice complex — featuring an indoor facility with a 120-yeard synthetic turf field and two 120-yard outdoor fields — will be named the Bill Koman Practice Complex.
“Carolina gave my father an education second to none, and without that education he would never have been so successful in the business world after pro football ended,” said Jim Koman ’86, CEO and founder of ElmTree Funds LLC, a national private equity real estate company. Like his father, Jim was a Carolina football player.
“Part of our mission as a football program is to ensure that we’re giving our young men the tools to go on and be productive husbands, fathers and citizens when their time in college comes to an end,” added Mack Brown. “With this program, we’ll be able to take that commitment to another level, and it will be of great benefit to our current and future student-athletes.
“I’m thrilled that Jim and Jennifer have so generously chosen to recognize Bill by creating a program that will impact our young men for the rest of their lives.”