SJSU, Spartan Football Receive $2 Million Gift from Alumnus John Hopkirk and Anne Murphy

Media contacts:
Robin McElhatton, SJSU Media Relations Specialist, 408-924-1749,
Lawrence Fan, SJSU Athletics Media Relations Director, 408-924-1217,

San Jose, Calif. — San Jose State University is pleased to announce that it has received a $2 million gift commitment from alumnus John Hopkirk and his wife Anne Murphy. Their gift will support a critical resource for the Spartan football program; a new state-of-the-art football operations center on the east side of CEFCU Stadium, Home of the Spartans.

“John and Anne have been long-time Spartan supporters and their gift to the football operations center demonstrates their love for San Jose State University,” said Athletics Director Marie Tuite. “They understand and support the priority of investing in football to provide Coach Brennan and his staff the tools they need to build a championship program.  In addition, John and Anne understand the value and impact their gift will have on changing the lives of the student-athletes we serve. We are so grateful for their generosity.”

The football operations center will include locker rooms, offices, a student-athlete lounge, an auditorium and premium seating options on the 50-yard line. The project will rebuild the stadium’s east side. The gift will add to improvements underway throughout South Campus, including the recently completed soccer, tennis, golf, and softball facilities.

Proud Spartans: John Hopkirk and Anne Murphy

John Hopkirk worked his way through school at San Jose State while pursuing a degree in business accounting. Hopkirk’s love for SJSU athletics took off after he graduated and began his professional career as a certified public accountant. As an avid supporter of SJSU football and basketball, Hopkirk believes he may be the only fan who has seen every SJSU men’s post-season basketball game since he first enrolled at San Jose State in the late 1960s.  

In 1987, John met his wife, Anne Murphy, a University of San Francisco graduate. Anne has embraced John’s passion for SJSU athletics and the couple travels all over the country to watch the Spartans compete.

“I have been following Spartan football for over 50 years.  It has brought me much joy, and we have made many great friends through our common love of Spartan football,” said Hopkirk. “I received a great education from San Jose State, and Anne and I thought we needed to give back to the university to show our appreciation. I hope our gift inspires others to do the same.

“San Jose State must have the facilities in place to attract the best and brightest student-athletes,” Hopkirk continued. “Hopefully our donation will enhance Spartan football’s chance to be a championship program and result in many more talented student-athletes proudly earning their diplomas from San Jose State University.”

“This critical project will have a major impact on Spartan football and our entire athletics program, as well as the gameday experience for our students and all who attend our games,” stated Paul Lanning, vice president for university advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation. “Building a modern football operations center that revitalizes CEFCU Stadium is our most urgent fundraising priorities, and we’re thrilled to see two of our greatest fans make such a generous commitment to this project.”

“I am so grateful for John and Anne’s tremendous commitment and generosity to support and build a championship football program at San Jose State,” added Head Football Coach Brent Brennan. “Their gift provides us with a critical recruiting tool, enhances the student-athlete experience and helps SJSU compete in the Mountain West. I can’t thank John and Anne enough for their commitment to the program.”

To learn how you can support the football operations center, please visit or contact Joshua Thiel, Deputy Athletics Director for Athletics Advancement, at (408) 924-1697 or via email at

About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study – offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 260,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.


SJSU Receives $5 Million Signed Gift Commitment from Alumni, Business Leaders and Philanthropists Larry and Deirdre Solari

Media contacts:
Pat Lopes Harris, SJSU Media Relations Director, 408-924-1748,
Lawrence Fan, SJSU Athletics Media Relations Director, 408-924-1217,

Larry and Deirdre Solari (photo by David Schmitz)

Larry and Deirdre Solari (photo by David Schmitz)

San Jose, Calif.
 — San Jose State University is pleased to announce that it has received a $5 million signed gift commitment from alumni, philanthropists and Monterey Peninsula residents Larry and Deirdre Solari. Their gift, among the largest ever to SJSU Athletics, will support SJSU football personnel and facilities, including plans for a new football operations center envisioned for the east side of CEFCU Stadium, Home of the Spartans.

“On behalf of the entire San Jose State University community, I would like to express my profound gratitude to Larry and Deirdre Solari for their leadership gift,” said President Mary A. Papazian. “This gift supports and honors more than a program; it expresses a deep commitment to the university and higher education as a pathway to opportunity.”

The new operations center will include locker rooms, offices, an auditorium and seating on the 50-yard line. In addition, the project would rebuild the stadium’s east side. This gift will therefore supplement improvements underway throughout South Campus, including recently completed tennis and golf facilities, and a soon-to-be-completed softball field.

“Larry and Deirdre Solari are long-time friends and supporters, and I am thrilled to have this opportunity to thank them for their generous gift,” said Athletics Director Marie Tuite. “The Solaris are now among our greatest benefactors in terms of investing in our football program and in assisting with our efforts to elevate the overall profile of the program. This is a touch point day for Spartan Football, Spartan Athletics and San Jose State University.”

Larry and Deirdre Solari: Spartans for Life

An aspiring engineer from a small farm town between Lodi and Stockton, Larry Solari transferred to San Jose State as a sophomore in 1961. Although San Jose’s population was small by modern terms, San Jose State offered all the perks of a metropolitan campus. Solari graduated in 1965 with a bachelor’s in business and industrial management, and completed an MBA one year later. In addition, he served as president of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, played baseball and regularly attended Spartan football games, both home and away.

Oakland native Deirdre Keefe attended San Jose State around the same time as her future husband. Like Larry, she was active in Greek life. As an Alpha Phi sorority member, she enjoyed Panhellenic traditions such as the Greek Show, Sparta Sings and Homecoming. She was elected Lambda Chi Alpha Crescent Girl in 1964. Her academic interests included teaching and psychology. She went on to work in television, advertising and executive recruitment. Larry and Deirdre met after college, on what proved to be a lucky blind date.

Building a strong foundation together

The Solaris built their life together based on their San Jose State experience. Larry’s nearly 30-year career with Owens-Corning Fiberglass took them to Toledo, Ohio, where they raised their family while he rose to serve as president of the company’s building materials group. The couple continued following college football including the Spartans, and resumed regularly attending SJSU football games when they returned to California. Now semi-retired, Larry is a private equity firm partner and serves on several boards.

At San Jose State, the Solaris observed former head coaches Mike MacIntyre and Dick Tomey, and appreciated their focus on building a strong foundation. The couple sees current Head Coach Brent Brennan taking a similar approach, influenced by his experience serving as an assistant coach during the MacIntyre and Tomey years.

“As a former athlete, I know the value of lessons learned on the field,” Larry Solari said. “As a businessman, I also know that we must provide the very best we can for our players, coaches and staff in order to attract the talent we need to sustain and grow Spartan football. It is one aspect of the university—a very visible one—and its success will raise the stature of San Jose State.”

Athletics Advancement: A new partnership

San Jose State launched a new fundraising model in August 2017, creating an Athletics Advancement team to elevate fundraising efforts, leverage University Advancement resources, and enhance day-to-day connectivity and alignment as the university works to increase resources for its student-athletes, coaches and support staff.

“When we embarked on this plan, we saw much to gain from combining the resources and talent of University Advancement and Athletics,” said Vice President for University Advancement Paul Lanning. “This commitment from the Solaris is proof positive that teamwork and cross-campus collaboration will raise San Jose State’s visibility and inspire alumni and supporters to invest in the university. I echo our president and athletics director in thanking the Solaris for their support.”

About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study—offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing more than 7,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 220,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

About San Jose State University Athletics

San Jose State University’s athletics program sponsors 20 NCAA Division I sports (seven men’s and 13 women’s) and offers an intercollegiate athletics experience to at least 450 student-athletes annually. The Spartans compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the highest level of college football. San Jose State is a member of the Mountain West—a conference of 12 football-playing schools in the Pacific, Mountain and Hawaiian time zones.


SJSU and CEFCU Announce Partnership Agreement For Spartan Stadium

Media contacts:
• Pat Lopes Harris, SJSU Media Relations Director, 408-924-1748,
• Lawrence Fan, SJSU Athletics Media Relations Director, 408-924-1217,
• Janā Stevens, CEFCU Community Relations Manager, 309-633-3675,

SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University and the Citizens Equity First Credit Union (CEFCU) have forged an $8.7 million, 15-year partnership agreement to rename the football stadium.

“CEFCU Stadium — Home of the Spartans” will host its first football game Sept. 10 against Portland State. The California State University Board of Trustees approved the stadium renaming and broader agreement at its July 19 meeting.

“We are very pleased to extend and enhance our relationship with CEFCU to include the naming of the stadium. Since 2011, CEFCU has been a loyal partner with San Jose State Athletics and we’ve valued its presence in Spartan Stadium. Today’s announcement is a long-term extension of our ongoing relationship with CEFCU,” Athletics Director Gene Bleymaier said about the renaming of the 30,456-seat venue built in 1933.

This is the only such agreement for a football stadium in the California State University system and one of three in the Mountain West Conference.

“There are many opportunities to invest in student success here at San Jose State,” University Advancement Vice President Paul Lanning said. “We hope this partnership motivates other Silicon Valley institutions—public and private—to join with us.”

The agreement will help with the funding of scholarship commitments for student-athletes, support and strengthen athletics operations, and improve the stadium and other facilities.

“CEFCU has been proud to support San Jose State University for many years. Since community involvement is extremely important to CEFCU, this new opportunity allows us to continue to support San Jose State through an even stronger partnership while furthering our commitment to the San Jose community. CEFCU is honored to be associated with an institution that excels in both academics and athletics,” CEFCU Community President Mark Hoffmire said.


As a community credit union, CEFCU is pleased to serve anyone living, working, or worshipping in Alameda, Contra Costa or Santa Clara counties in California. CEFCU was founded on the idea of savers helping borrowers and borrowers helping savers. With assets of nearly $5.5 billion, CEFCU serves over 314,000 members through four Member Centers in Santa Clara County and 20 central Illinois Member Centers; the surcharge-free CO-OP ATM Network; the CU Service Center Shared Branch Network; the Money Center 24 ATM Network; CEFCU’s website,; and CEFCU Mobile Banking.

About San Jose State University Athletics

San Jose State University’s athletics program sponsors 20 NCAA Division I sports (7 men’s and 13 women’s) and offers an intercollegiate athletics experience to at least 470 student-athletes annually. The Spartans compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the highest level of college football. San Jose State is a member of the Mountain West — a conference of 12 football-playing schools in the Pacific, Mountain and Hawaiian time zones.

About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 145 areas of study with an additional 108 concentrations — offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 32,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing more than 7,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 220,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

Ten Things to Know about SJSU and the Super Bowl

  1. San Jose State is proud to serve as the practice site for the Carolina Panthers. Following Super Bowl custom, practice will be closed to the public. But you’re bound to catch a glimpse of the Carolina Panthers caravan making its way from the San Jose Marriott to South Campus. And who knows? You might even spot a Panther because…
  2. A Spartan is on a Super Bowl team! Bené Benwikere, ’13 Sociology, is a cornerback for the Carolina Panthers. He’ll travel with the team, although he’s on injured reserve as he recovers from a leg fracture. It’s still a dream come true. What advice does he have for students? “Challenges are essential to your personal growth as a person; so do not shy away from any challenge,” Benwikere said.
  3. Photo via Twitter.

    Photo via Twitter @BigPlayBene

  4. Make that two Spartans on the field! Keith Ferguson, ’82 Accounting, will be the back judge, wearing jersey number 61.  This will be his second Super Bowl. Three more Spartans have officiated the NFL’s biggest game. They include alumnus Darrell Jenkins, who served as the umpire in Super Bowl XLVIII (Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks). He was a running back on the 1973, 1974 and 1975 SJSU football teams.
  5. There will be plenty more Super Bowl events right here in downtown San Jose. Super Bowl Opening Night is Feb. 1 at the SAP Center. Every major sports network in the nation will be there. So will Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism, and Randy Vazquez, ’15 Journalism, representing the SJSU School of Journalism and Mass Communications. In addition, you’ll see SJSU students seated near the NFL Network set, thanks to a special connection with NFL Marketing Manager Jason Whitcomb, ’11 Kinesiology.
  6. Photo: Tom Cherrey

    Neal Dahlen earned seven Super Bowl rings as a team executive (Photo: Tom Cherrey).

  7. Many Spartans have Super Bowl rings, but only one has seven of them. Neal Dahlen, ’63 BA ’64 MS Kinesiology/Physical Education, earned his rings during a 25-year career as an executive with the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos.
  8. The Spartans-Broncos connection runs deep. The late Jack Elway, father of Broncos General Manager John Elway, served as Spartan football head coach from 1979 to 1983. The late Jana Elway-Sever, ’83 Kinesiology/Physical Education and John’s twin sister, played on SJSU’s tennis team for two years. Janet Elway, John’s mother, worked at SJSU’s Department of Industrial Technology. Back then, John Elway was the quarterback at Stanford, where this son of an SJSU coach was on the road to becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. “The San Jose State-Stanford football games were magical: Stanford won in 1979 and 1980; San Jose State won in 1981 and 1982. The 1980, 1981 and 1982 games each drew more than 60,000 fans to Stanford Stadium,” SJSU Sports Information Director Lawrence Fan said.
  9. David Diaz-Infante, ’91 Social Science, was an offensive lineman on the Denver Broncos teams that won Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII (Photo: David Schmitz).

    David Diaz-Infante was an offensive lineman on the Denver Broncos teams that won Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII (Photo: David Schmitz).

  10. SJSU is the alma mater to five former Super Bowl head or assistant coaches including two legends: Bill Walsh, ’55 BA, ’58 MA, Education, led the San Francisco 49ers to victories in 1982, 1985 and 1989, and Dick Vermeil, ’58 Physical Education, ’59 MA Education, took the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl in 1981 and 2000.
  11. Nineteen former Spartan football players have played for Super Bowl teams, including three in the past 15 years: wide receiver Rashied Davis, ’06 Sociology (Chicago Bears) wide receiver James Jones, ’06 Sociology (Green Bay Packers); and defensive back Duke Ihenacho, ’11 Speech Communication (Denver Broncos). David Diaz-Infante, ’91 Social Science, was an offensive lineman on the Denver Broncos teams that won Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII. Today, he is an ESPN college football analyst. Steve DeBerg, ’80 Physical Education, was 45 years old when he played backup quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. Teased for being much older than Super Bowl 50 Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is just 39.
  12. Photo: David Schmitz

    Assistant Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications John Delacruz (Photo: David Schmitz).

  13. Many Spartans played leading roles in bringing the Super Bowl to the South Bay. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, ’82 Chemistry, is a Super Bowl 50 Host Committee Advisory Group member. Alumnus Jamie Matthews is mayor of the city of Santa Clara, home to Levi’s Stadium. Jill Bryant Meyers ’91 BA Journalism, ’98 MA History, is executive director of the Triton Museum of Art, including “Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.” William Kelly, ’89 BS Aeronautics/Business Administration, ’14 MA Public Administration, is the Santa Clara Fire Department chief. He helped develop the security and emergency management plan for Super Bowl 50 and related events. “The knowledge gained through  completing the MPA program was extremely helpful in that effort,” he said.
  14. Photo: David Schmitz

    San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy and Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications Diane Guerrazzi (Photo: David Schmitz).

  15. Did you know all pro football players wear tiny devices that track speed, distance and orientation? This was one of many insights shared at two Super Bowl symposiums held right here at SJSU. Moderators included Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Cole Armstrong, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications John Delacruz, and Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications Diane Guerrazzi. Jill Stelfox, vice president and general manager for location solutions at San Jose-based Zebra Technologies, described Zebra’s nickel-sized RFID chips, which are embedded inside the shoulder pads of every NFL player.


How the Super Bowl Will Impact SJSU

Editor’s note: This message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Jan. 29. 2016. 

Dear campus community,

Super Bowl 50 in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara is just nine days away. San Jose State has many direct ties to this game and the activities throughout our region.  This message is intended as a guide to what to expect during Super Bowl Week.

SJSU and the Super Bowl

The National Football Conference champion Carolina Panthers will utilize SJSU’s South Campus facilities next week for practices and team activities. (These are all closed to the public.) We are proud to be a host site and the opportunity it affords us to showcase many of SJSU’s distinctions to a global audience.

For example, SJSU alumnus Bene Benwikere, ’13 Sociology, will return to San Jose with the Panthers next week despite a mid-season injury that prematurely ended his season. Bene, a starting cornerback before his injury, is an inspiration to current and future Spartans.

SJSU and the American Football Conference champion Denver Broncos also have legacy connections. The parents of Broncos general manager and executive vice-president and two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback John Elway are Spartans. Jack Elway, John’s dad, was our head football coach from 1979 to 1983. Janet Elway, John’s mom, was an administrative assistant in the industrial technology department.

Many on campus are working to celebrate these and other connections. In collaboration with the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business, the College of Applied Sciences and Arts’ School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, University Advancement sponsored SportsTech symposia in December and earlier this month, exploring the many ways technology has influenced professional sports.

University communications staff members and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics are working on several features, and are collaborating with regional and national media on other stories that we expect to see in the days leading up to the game. You may see media on or around campus.

You can follow all stories on SJSU web properties and social media platforms, including theSJSU Newsroom blog, Twitter @SJSU, Twitter @sjsuathletics, the SJSU Facebook page,SJSU Alumni Association Facebook page and SJSUSpartans on Instagram.

Facility enhancements 

In collaboration with and support from the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee and the San Jose Sports Authority, improvements have been made to some of SJSU’s practice facilities and locker rooms, including a new turf installation last week. These enhancements will benefit students, coaches and staff for years to come.


SJSU athletics representatives and UPD officials have been closely collaborating with the NFL and law enforcement to ensure a safe environment for everyone. Following Super Bowl custom, the practice site will be closed to the public. Authorized personnel only will be permitted at South Campus during this time. While the stadium and athletic facilities will not be accessible, the Park and Ride lot will remain open to students, staff and faculty.

Next week, downtown San Jose will welcome many visitors attending public events and activities. Hotels and restaurants, parking facilities and some surface streets will be considerably busier than usual. Traffic mitigation measures have been carefully considered, and few street closures are expected. The San Jose Mercury News has created a Super Bowl Street Guide infographic that you may find helpful and you can stay updated by downloading the Nixle app (text SB 50 to 888777).

Other sites offering updates on activities and impacts in our area include:

City of San Jose

City of Santa Clara

Super Bowl 50

Following last December’s exciting win by our own Spartans in the inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl, Super Bowl 50 is an exciting opportunity for San Jose State to showcase its legacy and future. Let’s take full advantage of it!


Sue Martin

KTVU: Raider Pays Back San Jose Homeless Shelter That Helped Him as a Child

Posted Jan. 28, 2015 by KTVU.

By Amber Lee

AN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) — Oakland Raider James Jones has won a Super Bowl, but what makes the wide receiver stand out is how he gives back to the San Jose community that once helped him when he and his mother struggled with homelessness.

Since Jones signed with the Raiders last March, he has paid several visits to Family Supportive Housing, a shelter in San Jose that housed him when he was growing up.

Visiting the shelter for families is like coming home for Jones.

“When I was growing up, I was in and out of shelters for 15 years,” explained Jones.

At the shelter, he spoke with a man who recently lost his job and a place to live.

“Been in the same situation. Everything is temporary,” Jones told the homeless father.

Being at a homeless shelter was actually comforting for Jones while growing up, because he says it meant stability for a while.

“There were times where me and my mom slept on a park bench. At times, we were in and out of motels. That was probably the hardest time,” said Jones.

Jones credits determination and hard work first at Gunderson High School and later at San Jose State for helping him succeed.

View the full story.

60 Minutes: Quarterback Guru Steve Clarkson

Posted Dec. 22, 2013 by 60 Minutes.

The following is a script from “Quarterback Guru” which aired on Dec. 22, 2013. Morley Safer is the correspondent. Jonathan Schienberg, producer.

Quarterbacks: the superheroes of America’s favorite pastime: watching football. Chances are, you were just watching a game, and throughout, your eyes were fixed on the quarterbacks, those cool commanders of the gridiron. You fathers out there might have been dreaming about what might have been, but your sons, even the toddlers, would have been dreaming about future glory.

Tonight, we meet the man who sometimes makes their dreams come true – Steve Clarkson, quarterback guru, the man parents of  8 and 9 year olds turn to — and despite the obvious dangers of the game — spend tens-of-thousands of dollars seeking the magic touch that’s sent more than 25 Clarkson quarterbacks to the NFL. He’s so successful, that college recruiters are offering football scholarships to some of his students, some as young as 13…

Clarkson was one of the nation’s top quarterbacks at San Jose State, but just couldn’t make it to the NFL. So he went into the guru business. And word soon spread about his success, parents across the country sought him out. Among them, Joe Montana, who sent his two sons to the Clarkson camp. That’s some endorsement.

Read the full story.

Today: NFL Player David Quessenberry on His Lymphoma Battle

Posted Aug. 14, 2014 by Today.

By Chris Serico

From his Houston Texans teammates and National Football League opponents to family members and an 8-year-old superfan, David Quessenberry [a San Jose State graduate] has countless allies in his fight against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

At Thursday morning’s practice in Houston, players and coaches sported “Texans for DQ” T-shirts for DQ Strong Day, the team’s tribute to the second-year offensive tackle in support of the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

“It’s overwhelming, and it motivates me to fight my fight even harder,” Quessenberry told “I wake up every day knowing that I have an army behind me.”

Read the full story.

Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program

Five Reasons to be a Proud Spartan

Five engineering students experienced 15 minutes of zero gravity flight in Houston this summer. The SJSU team’s research proposal, selected by NASA from more than 60 proposals, gave the students the opportunity to design, build, fly and test their experiments aboard an aircraft dubbed the “Weightless Wonder.” And the experience? “Phenomenal, exhilarating, amazing!” students report.

Paul Clerkin

Willing to travel thousands of miles out to sea, graduate student Paul Clerkin discovered eight shark species (Save Our Seas Foundation image).

Featured on the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week”: a new species of shark and the Moss Landing Marine Labs master’s degree candidate Paul Clerkin who discovered the animal during a research trip to the Indian Ocean. Included in the program are glimpses of the as-yet-named shark, the size of a watermelon with purple fins and a “venomous, barbed spine.”

How many inspire a Hollywood film? Bob Ladouceur, ’77 Criminal Justice, former head football coach at De La Salle High School, has spent the last several months walking red carpets, being interviewed by “Entertainment Tonight” and attending premieres of When the Game Stands Tall, a film about Coach Ladouceur and De La Salle’s historic 151-game winning streak. Actor Jim Caviezel portrays Ladouceur in the film. 

To become a performer, the late comic genius Robin Williams had to overcome a crippling case of shyness. First step: joining his high school drama club. For his 1997 film Flubber, Williams came to San Jose. Sharp-eyed Spartans will recognize several city and campus locations that made the film’s final cut.

Spartan football alums David Quessenberry (Houston Texans), ’12 History, and James Jones (Oakland Raiders) aren’t acquainted with the word “quit.” Jones, a sociology major who recently returned to the San Jose homeless shelter where he and his mother lived for several months, shared the story of his own escape from poverty with residents. “You’re here, but this isn’t the end,” he assured them. Battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the 6-foot-five, 307-pound Quessenberry is inspired by the support of teammates and fans. “I wake up every day knowing that I have an army behind me,” he said. “It motivates me to fight even harder.”



A Homecoming to Remember

From the Cookie Kickoff to the final seconds of the game, Homecoming 2013 was outstanding.

The festivities began Monday morning with free gold and blue cookies for everyone. The middle of the week brought circus performers, the Campus MovieFest grand finale and Fire on the Fountain, where the Homecoming king and queen were named.

Seniors Daniel Harris-Lucas and Diana Busaka were selected based on their achievements. But the honor took on special significance this year, believed to be the first time in SJSU history that the king and queen are both African American.

On Friday, San Jose State took over San Pedro Square. The revelry continued Saturday, when Golden Grads from the Classes of 1962, 1963 and 1964 joined current students at tailgate parties before the game.

More than 16,120 fans packed Spartan Stadium. Spartans delivered a nail biter, beating Wyoming in the last few seconds of the game. Fireworks filled the night sky, but the celebration did not end there.

Spartans awoke Monday to learn quarterback David Fales, who threw for a career-high 482 yards and five touchdowns, had been named National Performer of the Week. The former Wyoming walk-on was quick to deflect the attention.

“We’ve got a lot of guys making plays,” he told the San Jose Mercury News.

The excitement continues Saturday, when Spartan Football travels to UNLV, followed by the men’s basketball season opener 7 p.m. Nov. 4 at the SJSU Event Center.

Have you seen the new floor? This is Sparta!

SJSU Basketball Court

This is Sparta! (SB Nation Photo)



Athletics Hosts Los Spartans Night

Spartan Athletics Hosts Los Spartans Night

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with this special pre-game event Sept. 27. $25 VIP ticket includes food, entertainment, this t-shirt and admission to Spartan Stadium.

Contact: Denis Cajina Jr., 408-924-SJTX

For the first time in school history, San Jose State University Athletics will be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with “Los Spartans Night,” which will take place Friday, Sept. 27, when SJSU Football takes on Utah State, with kickoff at 6 p.m. at Spartan Stadium. Nationally televised on ESPN, this game is a highly anticipated rematch. Utah State was one of only two teams that defeated the Spartans last season.

Prior to kickoff, San Jose State Athletics will host an Hispanic Heritage Night networking mixer beginning at 3 p.m. on the Spartan practice fields. Top Hispanic businesses and business owners will be in attendance as well as both on and off-campus Hispanic organizations. The mixer will include cultural performances, Hispanic music and food catered by Chavez Supermarkets, one of the official sponsors of this event.

Chavez Supermarkets has donated 1,000 Los Spartan Night t-shirts for those who purchase tickets. Fans can buy tickets online, by phone and at all Chavez Supermarkets. Fans who purchase tickets at Chavez Supermarkets will also receive two free children tickets (12 and under) with the purchase of every adult ticket.

Tickets are $25 and include entrance into the networking mixer event, a reserved seat in section 108, and a limited edition “Los Spartans Night” t-shirt. Supplies are limited. Even though San Jose State students are admitted free into Spartan home games, they must still purchase a ticket to be admitted into the networking event and to receive a “Los Spartans Night” t-shirt.

For more information regarding this event, contact Denis Cajina Jr. with SJSU Athletics at 408-924-SJTX (7589) or on the link found below. Getting it Back–How San Jose State Excels in the Classroom

Posted by Dec. 21, 2013.

By Ronnie Ramos

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Katie Parry, the learning specialist for the San Jose State football team, knows the exact moment the players became really, truly committed to academics. “We beat Navy and we’re flying back and we’re all excited,” she said of a late September game earlier this year. “Our starting quarterback comes up to me and says, ‘I’m ready to do my paper.’ That is a sign of true turnaround to me. We’ve got student-athletes who want to do school work on the plane after a road win.”

It has been a long road back.

On the football field, the San Jose State football team finished 11-2, its first 11-win season since 1940. The Spartans defeated Bowling Green, 29-20, in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27. It was their first bowl game since 2006.

In the classroom, the turnaround has been even more impressive. The football program has improved its Academic Progress Rate – the NCAA’s team-based metric that measures how well a school retains students and keeps them on track to graduate – by more than 100 points.

“The way it works is you can’t have success in one area and not in the other – everything has to go hand in hand,” said senior offensive tackle David Quessenberry “Academics come first. You have to take care of business in the classroom in order to be successful on the football field.”

That wasn’t always the case.

The school’s APR was so dismal seven years ago that the school had been penalized with the loss of scholarships, faced the real possibility of being banned from bowl games, and even forced the new football coach to ask if he was going to have a team.

The program was in such disarray that six players had to be pulled off the bus before a game against Stanford because they were juniors and had not declared their majors, a requirement to remain eligible for competition. “That was mortifying,” said Eileen Daley who was hired as the lead academic athletics advisor soon after that incident.

The school also hired a new athletics director, Tom Bowen, and a new football coach, Dick Tomey, before the 2005 season. Neither knew the extent of the academic woes until they got to campus.

It was so bad in the fall of 2005 that Tomey asked Daley: Are we going to have a team? I don’t know, she told him. “The biggest reason we struggled so much was our students weren’t going to class,” Daley said. “And those that exhausted their eligibility weren’t going to class and not graduating.”

That is a deadly combination for a school’s APR. In 2004, the football team’s APR was 837. At the time, a score of 925 roughly equated to a 50 percent graduation rate. Today, a team with an APR below 930 cannot compete for a championship or play in a bowl game. San Jose State’s football team had an APR of 959 in 2011, the latest year available.

So how did San Jose State turn things around? The school unequivocally adopted an academics-first priority. Led by the new triumvirate of the school president, the athletics director and football coach, standards were raised, student-athletes were held accountable and resources were added for academic support.

In short, focusing on academics took precedence over winning football games. The road back to academic success started in early 2005 when Interim President Don Kassing was permanently named to the position. He hired Bowen as his athletics director, who then hired Tomey.

The three came aboard together. That was the good news.

The bad news was none of them knew much about the APR – and the dismal academic performance of its student-athletes. “None of us were familiar with the APR,” said Kassing, who was president until 2008. “I was aware but did not pay attention to it. We were six or seven months into our jobs and Tom (Bowen) said we were behind on dealing with APR.”

Said Bowen: “It was a mess. There was no academic support. The academic culture among students was one of disarray and nonperformance.” Across the university, student-athletes were not well regarded. “We were in such dire situation with credibility among the deans, faculty senate,” Bowen said. “We needed to show it was important to me, to the coaches.”

Tomey was not happy. “My mindset was very defensive,” he said. “I wasn’t up to date on APR. I admit that.” After six months of trying to appeal the NCAA sanctions of scholarship reductions, Tomey had a self-realization. “I needed to get myself together and understand that it was a new day in terms of academic accountability and I needed to get on board with it and take a different approach.

“At that point threw myself completely into learning all I could about the history of the APR. I got on every committee I could get on (at the NCAA) having to do with that.”

Kassing, Bowen, and Tomey made a formidable team to ignite the turnaround. “We needed to do it for the right reasons – for the kids,” Kassing said. “I wanted the kids to have respect on campus. We wanted good, strong academic students, not just athletes.”

Tomey’s effort was dubbed “Operation Graduation.” The focus was changed from getting players eligible to getting them to graduate.

“We changed our recruiting practices,” Tomey said. “We changed the way we did almost everything. We had to recruit players we were convinced could graduate.”

Bowen spearheaded the effort to acquire additional resources to help student-athletes with academics. San Jose State, though in Division I, has limited resources. But President Kassing was determined to make improvements. “We had to fund it because we felt it was very important to do,’ he said.

Bowen hired a learning specialist to work with the student-athletes and instituted mandatory study hall. They tried different things. Student-athletes on scholarships were held responsible for their performance. “If you got an F, you had to pay the class back,” Bowen said. “And it worked.”

Coaches checked classrooms to make sure the players were attending class. Tomey left in 2009 and his successor Mike McIntyre picked up what Tomey had started.

McIntyre hired Parry as a full-time learning specialist for the football team and placed her front and center. “My job is only as good as the head coach’s commitment,” Parry said. “If the head coach isn’t supportive of academics, my role doesn’t serve a whole lot of purpose. Academics are front and center for him. It’s really first.”

Every day, as football practice ends, Parry is on the field. “As soon as practice is over, coach calls everyone up,” she said. “I am the first person to speak. Every day. I make academic announcements. He told me, even if you don’t really have any announcements, say something. I need to be a presence. They need to know I come first.”

Parry travels with the team on road games and hosts mandatory study hall in the hotel for at least three hours every Friday night before the game. On the plane to and from the games, the seat next to Parry is left open so students can sit with her and do their work.

“The first year we did that, I faced a little resistance,” Parry said. “Guys were like, ‘I don’t want to do it now.’ This year, I have more guys than I can handle. I had 10 to 15 players per trip, wanting to do work with me. I had to create a schedule. Kids were arguing over who was going to sit next to me so we could talk about their paper, talk about what they had coming up.”

For incoming freshmen, McIntyre started a summer bridge program, which is common at many large Division I schools. “It has made huge inroads in getting kids to learn how to be students,” Parry said. “It’s a five-week program: two classes, three hours a day. They learn study skills, life skills, how to do a presentation, how to do research, how to use the library, how to talk to a professor.

“When they start school in the fall as freshman, they know. They know how to be a student.”

Many of the architects of San Jose State’s turnaround are gone. Kassing and Tomey have retired. Bowen is now the athletics director at Memphis. McIntyre, who replaced Tomey, just left for the head coaching job at Colorado.

But the commitment remains.

Current AD Gene Blaymaier hired a new coach, Ron Caragher, last week. Maintaining the current academic success was “the number one priority,” he said. “I had to have a coach that was going to stress academics. The student-athletes are here first and foremost to graduate.”

Moments after being introduced as the new coach, Caragher said he knew about the past problems and what is expected going forward. “I knew some of the difficulties they have gone through and that came up with the leadership as we went through this process,” he said. “There is a good solid plan in place so we can keep our APR high.”

Today, the torch for academic excellence is carried by Liz Jarnigan, the associate athletic director for student services and a passionate advocate for student-athlete success. A former student-athlete and a former coach, Jarnigan seeks to take that competitive zeal the players embrace on the field and carry it into the classroom.

And unlike eight years ago, there is help. There are three academic advisors – Jose Macias, Gina Archimede and Marwa Abbas – who help all the student-athletes, not just the football players. Learning specialist Nick Mazur rounds out the team. It’s a small unit compared to what large Division I schools have.

At San Jose State, the study hall also serves as the meeting room for the football team. Jarnigan works out of an office barely larger than a closet and talks passionately about setting high standards. “The goal is to go for a 4.0,” she said. “Why shoot for a 2.0, the minimum needed to remain eligible?

“On the field, you don’t go into the season shooting for third place in the conference. You play to win. We should do the same in the classroom. We encourage them to be true to their competitive nature. Don’t change the mindset from the field to the classroom.”

Many of the players, especially the seniors, have embraced the academic part of being a student-athlete. “School has to come first because you can’t predict what is going to happen with football, said senior defensive end Travis Johnson. “But if you have a degree, you are set for life.”

Spartan Football: "History Makers"

Spartan Football Makes History

fan hugs player

Emotions ran high after SJSU clinched the game (Christina Olivas photo).

“The best season in the major college football history of San Jose State concluded with a game that showcased how this team reached levels not before seen,” San Jose Mercury News reporter Jimmy Durkin wrote of SJSU’s 29-20 victory over Bowling Green at the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C. After quarterback David Fales was named MVP, he was quick to share the credit. “I’m just so excited for the coaching staff and the seniors and the people who put in all that hard work,” he said. These achievements provided the Spartan football team, cheer team and marching band with the opportunity to perform on a national level, a transformational opportunity SJSU strives to provide all students. View photos from the game and add a comment on Facebook. See the trophy presentation on ESPN3. Check out ESPN game highlights.

SJSU's Best of 2012

Olympian Tops SJSU’s Best of 2012

SJSU's Best of 2012

SJSU’s 2012 Olympian Marti Malloy is welcomed home by her coach, the legendary Yosh Uchida (Christina Olivas photo).

We’ve had an absolutely amazing year, Spartans!

When the time came for us to select the Best of 2012, it was super tough to choose just 10!

We would like to send a huge thanks to everyone who visited all of our online channels, whether it was our news, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn or Pinterest pages.

We counted up all your clicks, likes, pins and tweets and SJSU’s 2012 Olympian Marti Malloy came out on top. Read her story and join us on Pinterest to add a comment.

Ripped From the Headlines

Many more of our top stories were ripped right out of the headlines, with students loving the passage of Prop. 30 and the tuition rollback that came along with it.

Our football team making it to the Military Bowl also touched off an avalanche of national media coverage.

Whether led by an enterprising professor or intrepid students, campus research boomed with a $73.3 million NASA grant and a mind-boggling motorcycle with spherical wheels.

We also scored in the U.S. News & World Report College Rankings, coming in ninth overall among the West’s top public universities.

Enriching the Educational Experience

Student life thrived, too. In May, two undergrads and two graduate students from the class of 2012 earned accolades for their outstanding work.

This summer, we welcomed incoming frosh with a super fun orientation program followed this fall by our largest career fair in five years.

We even set the stage for 2013, launching an initiative to roll out a whole bunch of online tools enriching the educational experience here at SJSU.

Stay tuned because things can only get better next year!

San Jose Mercury News: SJSU Receives A+ for BYU Win

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News Nov. 19, 2012.

By Jon Wilner


Result: Beat BYU 20-14

Grade: A+

Comment: For perspective on the Spartans’ first win over BYU since 1968, consider that the Cougars were within a field goal of beating Notre Dame in South Bend.That’s not to say SJSU would take down the Irish, but when combined with the Spartans’ three-point loss at Stanford, it’s a pretty solid indication that they’re a quality team on any level — WAC, Independent, B1G, Pac-12.

“If you would ask anybody in America if we’d be 9-2 at this time, I don’t think many people would’ve said it,” coach Mike MacIntyre said after the game.Truer words have never been spoken, at least on the corner of Seventh and Alma.

A stellar season for the Spartans got even better with what could reasonably be considered their best win since beating Stanford in 2006.

At the same time, MacIntyre’s stock is soaring at the same time positions are coming open across the country (and perhaps in the Bay Area).Whether he’s interesting in leaving SJSU is a discussion for another time, but I have to think the Spartans are reworking MacIntyre’s contract.

If not: What are they waiting for?

As opposed to the high-scoring affairs of the past month, this was dominated by the defenses (not surprising, given BYU’s prowess on that side of the ball).Keith Smith’s game-saving blitz/fumble forced was the play of the game, but SJSU was sturdy throughout, holding BYU to 2.6 yards per rush and a 33 percent third-down conversion rate.Oh, and don’t forget the four sacks and three turnovers forced.

Quarterback David Fales was 25 of 34 for 305 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Given the strength of BYU’s defense, this qualifies as the best game of Fales’ career.It’s one thing to carve up UTSA and New Mexico State, quite another to post those numbers against BYU.

Next up: vs. Louisiana Tech

The matchup: The Spartans are getting LaTech at just the right time, following an overtime loss to Utah State in a showdown for the WAC title.How must emotional fuel will the Bulldogs have left?

Even at less than their best, the Bulldogs present numerous problems for the SJSU defense: QB Colby Cameron and WR Quinton Patton are one of the top pass-catch tandems in the country.This will be the best test for SJSU’s defense since Utah State … and maybe the best test of the season.

LaTech leads the country in scoring, and not all of its big games have come against second-tier WAC foes: The Bulldogs posted 57 points on Texas A&M and 41 on Utah State.

The Spartans are favored by 3.5.

Fall 2013 Frosh and Transfer Applications Surge

SJSU Welcomes 30,500 Students to 2012-2013 Academic Year

SJSU Welcomes 30,500 Students to 2012-2013 Academic Year

Fantastic weather greeted new students at the Fall Welcome Days Kick-Off Aug. 21 on Tower Lawn. A folklorico group was among the entertainers at the event (Christina Olivas photo).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

What’s the roar coming from downtown San Jose? That’s the sound of 30,500 Spartans heading to campus for fall 2012!

As usual, the academic year began with fantastic weather. During the sunny but cool afternoon of Aug. 21, new students crowded Tower Lawn for the Fall Welcome Days Kick-Off.

The event was SJSU’s way of welcoming 3,445 first-time freshmen, 3,370 new community college transfers and 1,900 new graduate students to campus, very close to matching last year’s grand total.

With music booming, students ate ice cream, lined up for caricatures and took a ride down giant inflatable slides while meeting new people and learning about SJSU organizations and departments.

The next day, thousands of Spartans flooded campus for the first day of classes, searching for parking and perhaps hoping to drop/add a course or two.

New Services

The most obvious change was tremendous progress on the construction of the new Student Union. When students left for the summer, there was little more than a foundation.

Now you can see the curvy exterior of the western expansion near the Music Building and a tiered theater taking shape near the Business Tower.

The Spartan Bookstore was crowded with students, who can now charge up to $900 in books and supplies on their Tower Cards. Meanwhile, the University Library is making it easier than ever to borrow textbooks.

SJSU Welcomes 30,500 Students to 2012-2013 Academic Year

Over at South Campus, Spartan Football has been practicing since late summer for its season opener at Stanford 7 p.m. Aug. 31, led by starting quarterback David Fales and supported by the SJSU Cheer Team (Christina Olivas photo).

Even before stepping on campus, everyone experienced downtown San Jose’s newest traffic features: 7.6 miles of buffered bicycle lanes on Third, Fourth, 10th and 11th streets.

Yes, it’s confusing but the city of San Jose is offering more info on how to navigate the bike lanes, intended to make things safer for everyone.

Another option is to live on campus. Almost 3,600 students have moved in, including all freshmen required to bunk in the bricks, Joe West Hall or Campus Village.

Over at South Campus, Spartan Football has been practicing since late summer for its season opener at Stanford 7 p.m. Aug. 31, led by starting quarterback David Fales.

Of course what matters most is what students find in the classroom — expect change! Among SJSU’s key hires over the summer was Dr. Catheryn Cheal.

The new associate vice president and senior academic technology officer, she is charged with helping the faculty explore online teaching.

Academic Innovation

Another new face is Lisa Vollendorf, who came from CSU Long Beach to become dean of our College of Humanities and the Arts.

Among the many faculty members heading back with new books is Professor Randall Stross, author of The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s Most Exclusive School for Startups.

SJSU Welcomes 30,500 Students to 2012-2013 Academic Year

Innovation was the theme of President Mohammad Qayoumi’s Fall Welcome Address, an annual tradition held this year on Aug. 20 in Morris Dailey Auditorium (Robert Bain photo).

Innovation was a theme of President Mohammad Qayoumi’s Fall Welcome Address, an annual tradition at SJSU held Aug. 20 this year.

After taking the podium, Qayoumi wasted no time in getting right to the point — everyone’s worried about the budget. Will tuition go up? Will jobs be cut?

What can you do? Attend the next budget forum Sept. 10 and make a difference by voting in the November elections, especially on Proposition 30.

Not registered? No problem! In the next week or so, you should see voter registration booths popping up all over campus.

Associated Students will help people register in person or online at TurboVote, which makes the whole process as easy as ordering a DVD on NetFlix.

And should you have trouble finding your way around, look for the “Ask Me” booths at all the main entrances to campus, a great example of Spartans helping Spartans.

SF Chronicle: Coach MacIntyre Positions Spartan Football as Contender for WAC Title

Lofty goals for San Jose State

Posted by the San Francisco Chronicle July 31, 2012.

By John Crumpacker

San Jose State’s football fortunes have improved to such an extent in the third year under coach Mike MacIntyre that the Spartans are seriously talking about making a run for the WAC title in their last season before moving on to the Mountain West Conference.

Imagine that.

Just two years ago, San Jose State slogged through a 1-12 season in MacIntyre’s debut season with the Spartans. An improvement to 5-7 in 2011 has coach and players thinking big.

“We definitely have an opportunity to be WAC champion,” MacIntyre said Monday at Bay Area football media day at the Nikko Hotel in San Francisco. “That’s our goal, to be WAC champion. We’re excited about the possibility. Hopefully, we can be the first WAC champion in football” in San Jose State history.

MacIntyre’s optimism has filtered down to his players, based on San Jose State’s improvement last season.

“I can see significant improvement each year,” tight end Ryan Otten said. “We’re bigger, we’re stronger, we’re faster, more disciplined and more confident. My expectations are high. Our focus this year is we’re trying to win the last WAC championship. We’re more than capable of taking care of business.”

This is the year to take care of business in the devalued WAC, down to seven football-playing schools for 2012 after Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada departed. Remaining are Louisiana Tech, Utah State, New Mexico State, Idaho, Texas State and Texas-San Antonio, along with San Jose State.

The Spartans were picked to finish third in the WAC in a recent media poll.

“We have huge expectations,” defensive end Travis Johnson said. “We want to win them all. There’s no reason we can’t win them all if we play our best. It’s a total possibility.”

Players like Otten and Johnson give the Spartans reason for optimism. The 6-foot-5 Otten had 52 receptions for 739 yards and five touchdowns a year ago, but that was with Matt Faulkner throwing to him.

Faulkner is gone, and MacIntyre is weighing his options at quarterback among David Fales, Dasmen Stewart, Blake Jurich and Joe Gray.

“We’ve got to find a quarterback. That’s our challenge in fall camp,” MacIntyre said.

One thing MacIntyre has accomplished in his first two seasons in San Jose is to build depth.

“There’s more of us,” he said. “There’s more good football players. We’re bigger, we’re stronger, we’re faster, and we have more depth. Now we have to prove it on the football field.”

Johnson, a smallish defensive end, was chosen as the WAC preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Other honors candidates include Otten, tackle David Quisenberry, linebacker Keith Smith, punter Harrison Waid and wide receiver Noel Grigsby.

John Crumpacker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @crumpackeroncal