MANILA, Philippines – The president of the Ateneo de Manila University has established a Basketball Endowment Fund (BEF) following the university's falling out with its top patron, businessman Manny V. Pangilinan, last September.
In a memo addressed to the Ateneo community, Jose Ramon Villarin SJ announced that he has decided to establish the endowment fund "to provide for the operations and advancement of our Men's, Women's and Junior's basketball programs."
Villarin said that Pangilinan was the sole benefactor of the Ateneo Blue Eagles "for many years."
"Unknown to many, he supported the women's and juniors' programs as well," he said.
"In that role, MVP provided both financial support and inspirational leadership to the team and under his stewardship, the Blue Eagles built an exceptional program and achieved unprecedented success, the most recent being a '5-peat' UAAP championship," Villarin said.
But with Pangilinan's decision to withdraw his support from the Ateneo, the school now has "to reasses our basketball programs and institute structural changes to offset this loss."
Establishing the endowment fund will ensure that the university does not need to draw from the revenue stream of their Athletics Office in order to support the basketball program.
Villarin said they are now assembling a team that will "assess the current cost profile; define funding targets; establish strategic and operational policies and structures; develop a set of viable goals and initiatives for the BEF; and organize marketing and promotions campaigns."
The team will be headed by Fr. Nemesio Que SJ, the chaplain of the Blue Eagles.
In his memo, Villarin also thanked the Ateneo alumni "who have signified their intention to step up and help us move to the next level."
Pangilinan's decision to sever ties with the Ateneo came at a critical time, as the Blue Eagles were preparing to play in the UAAP Final Four when it was revealed to the media.
The Blue Eagles' coach at that time, Norman Black, then offered to resign amid the split, but was instructed by Pangilinan to continue coaching the team until the end of the UAAP season.
But Pangilinan did meet with the team before the start of the Final Four to assure them of his support.
Following the Blue Eagles' victory in the UAAP Season 75 Finals over the UST Growling Tigers, Pangilinan took to Twitter to congratulate the squad.
"Happy for the players and coaches. I said I’ll be with them until the end. Mission accomplished," Pangilinan tweeted.