Johnson Outdoors chairman and chief executive officer Helen Johnson-Leipold and her husband, National Hockey League team owner Craig Leipold, have pledged $1 million to Carthage College’s sports management offerings.
The gift will support the college’s sports management track in its Master of Science in Business program, which launched its first cohort this fall.
The funds will be used to hire faculty and guest lecturers, award student scholarships, establish industry partnerships, augment experiential learning opportunities and develop distinctive programming, the college said.
“The business side of sports continues to grow, and we believe Carthage can quickly emerge as a top destination for students who want to rise above the pack,” said Leipold, majority owner of the Minnesota Wild. “The building blocks are all there — the location, the facilities, the passionate students, and especially the faculty commitment to meet true workforce needs.”
Carthage will also use the gift to expand its undergraduate offerings that are related to the intersection of business and competitive athletics. The college noted that management is the second-most pursued major on campus and about one-third of Carthage students compete in 27 NCAA Division III sports.
“We’re incredibly grateful that Craig and Helen share our vision for this new academic venture,” said Thomas Kline, Carthage’s vice president for institutional advancement. “Our students will benefit greatly from their philanthropy, as well as their remarkable business acumen.”
Carthage will also use a portion of the funding to bring in prominent guests for its Chapman Executive-in-Residence program and Spotlight on Sports forum, which has hosted the likes of Milwaukee Bucks president Peter Feigin, former Chicago Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough, and Leipold.
Leipold made his first foray into the NHL in 1997 when he bought the expansion Nashville Predators. He later sold that team and purchased the Wild in 2008. Johnson-Leipold is chairman and CEO of Johnson Outdoors and chairman of Johnson Financial Group, both of which are based in Racine.
“Partnerships with industry leaders like Craig Leipold enable Carthage’s academic programs to offer the finest expertise and experience available anywhere,” said president John Swallow. “No institution will be better positioned than Carthage College to help management students skate to where the puck is going.”