August 12, 2009

Coach Dick Russell
Coach Dick Russell

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LEWISBURG, Pa. — The men's and women's water polo programs at Bucknell University will be greatly bolstered thanks to a $1.5 million commitment made by Dan '78 and Chris (Peterjohn '76) Richards.

The pledge was made in honor of Coach Dick Russell, who was at the helm of the swimming and diving programs from 1968 to 1994 and created the water polo program at Bucknell, coaching the men's team from its inception as a varsity sport in 1977 until 1986. Mr. and Mrs. Richards were swimmers under Coach Russell during their years at Bucknell.

As the Richards' multi-year pledge is paid, an endowment will be built that generates funds to enhance Bucknell's men's and women's varsity water polo programs by increasing and stabilizing the resources available for the coaches, staff and student-athletes. The Russell Endowment will provide a lasting memorial honoring the lifetime contributions of the late Hall of Fame mentor to Bucknell's varsity water polo and swimming and diving programs. It will complement a similar endowment established for the swimming and diving programs in 2002 by William D. Dearstyne '62 to honor former coach and director of athletics Bob Latour, and further underscores the successful tradition of the varsity aquatics programs at Bucknell.

Alumni loyalty
"Bucknell is grateful to Dan and Chris Richards for setting an outstanding example of alumni loyalty and leadership as we enter the third year of our comprehensive campaign," said President Brian C. Mitchell. "Their generosity honors Coach Russell's important legacy, and will help future generations of student-athletes to enjoy the same great experience that they did."

"We are extremely pleased to accept the Richards' generous commitment, and I would like to publicly thank Dan and Chris for a gift that will directly impact the student-athlete experience for current and future Bucknellians," said John P. Hardt, director of athletics and recreation. "To me, the most rewarding aspect of this gift is that it comes from two former Bison student-athletes who enjoyed such a positive experience at Bucknell that they felt compelled to give back as alumni. Their leadership and financial support can serve as a model for all of our sports programs here at Bucknell, as well as for other institutions around the country."

"This is a tremendous act of generosity that will help our programs move in the right direction," said John Abdou, Bucknell's current head men's and women's water polo coach. "It is my hope that Dan and Chris' gift will inspire others to step forward and support the program in a similar fashion. I can't think of a better way to pay tribute to Coach Russell - he was truly the pioneer of water polo on the East Coast. I am sure many of his former players and colleagues will be extremely touched by the Richards' gift."

Tribute to Coach Russell
"We are very happy that we can provide the water polo program with some much-needed support, while at the same time paying tribute to Coach Russell," said Dan Richards.  "He played an important role in so many of our lives, and Chris and I are thankful that we have the ability to make this gift in his memory."

The Richards' commitment includes a matching challenge program to encourage additional support for Bucknell's aquatics programs. || Details of matching challenge

Contact: Division of Communications