Indiana State University Newsroom

ISU alumni make $300,000 commitment to Sycamore Athletics

October 21, 2021

Indiana State University alumni Mike and Mary Blackwell have made a $300,000 philanthropic commitment to support ISU’s baseball, football, and strength and conditioning programs as well as the Sycamore Athletics general fund.

In recognition of the gift, ISU’s Board of Trustees approved the naming of the Mike and Mary Blackwell Sports Performance Center located in the Health and Human Services Building. 

The center, which serves all of ISU’s intercollegiate athletes, has an array of weight training equipment, treadmills, and water powered rowers.

Dave McMannus, ISU Associate Director of Sports Performance, said the gift “will allow us to buy new equipment and software, and help with recruiting to make our room more competitive. As an alum myself, I am even more grateful and excited to see how this will elevate our strength and conditioning program to the next level.”

Sherard Clinkscales, ISU’s Director of Athletics, said the Blackwells have been great benefactors of Sycamore athletics.

“Wherever there’s been a need, they have supported it,” Clinkscales said. “They’ve seen the need for our student-athletes to have a state-of-the-art sports performance center. It is apropos that it will now be named after them for all of their support.”

The Blackwells have supported renovations to ISU’s baseball stadium at Bob Warn Field, improvements at Memorial Stadium, funding for the Sycamore Fuel Initiative, and student-athlete scholarships. They received the university’s philanthropy award in 2009 for their contributions to ISU.

“We are grateful for the generosity of Mike and Mary Blackwell in support of Sycamore athletics and our student-athletes,” ISU President Dr. Deborah J. Curtis said. “They’ve made a tremendous impact and this gift will further strengthen our athletes and teams.”

The Blackwells are Vigo County natives who reside in Madison, Miss. Mike Blackwell graduated from ISU in 1970 with a degree in geology. He played football and baseball for the Sycamores and was a member of Alpha Tau Omega. He is the former president and lead scientist for Mississippi Oil Co., which he and his business partners established in 1982. The company is an active oil and gas exploration firm in the southeastern U.S.

“I just want to give back to Indiana State for the initial investment they made in me as a scholarship athlete,” Mike Blackwell said. “It [this gift] will be a lasting tribute to my family and also to my many teammates, teachers, and coaches who inspired, encouraged, and motivated me along the way.”

Mary Blackwell graduated from ISU in 1971 with a degree in elementary education and was active in Alpha Omicron Pi.

“We have been loyal Sycamore fans for years and hope our gift shows the love we have for ISU,” said Mary Blackwell.

A celebration honoring the naming of the Mike and Mary Blackwell Sports Performance Center will take place in 2022.

Photo of Mike and Mary Blackwell

Photo of the Mike and Mary Blackwell Sports Performance Center

Media contacts: 

Mark Alesia, Director of University Communication 

(O) 812-237-3837 

(C) 812-229-8020

Dianne Powell, Associate Director of University Communication

(O) 812-237-8764

(C) 812-878-2131