A Will to Lead: Whitt family endows scholarship to assist Elon student-athletes

Elon alumnus and parent Grayson Whitt ’79 P’08 P’09 and his wife Connie Whitt P’08 P’09 continue their loyal support of Elon athletics by making a generous gift through their estate. Their gift is part of the Elon LEADS Campaign.

Elon alumnus and parent Grayson Whitt ’79 P’08 P’09 and his wife, Connie Whitt P’08 P’09, of Eden, North Carolina, have made a generous estate gift to endow the Whitt Family Athletics Scholarship, which will provide financial assistance to a student-athlete in any of the university’s 17 sports programs.

The couple’s gift is part of A Will to Lead, a special initiative of the Elon LEADS Campaign that encourages donors to place Elon in their estate plans. Since the launch of A Will to Lead in March 2021, alumni, parents and friends have contributed $14.8 million in estate gifts to sustain Elon’s nationally recognized brand of high-impact, engaged teaching and learning.

Grayson and Connie Whitt have been devoted donors to Elon for more than four decades, primarily supporting athletics, including gifts to the Phoenix Club, Rhodes Stadium, Latham Baseball Park, and Elon’s Greatest Needs. In 2016, the couple made a gift to name an assistant coach’s office in the Men’s Basketball suite in Schar Center.

The couple can be seen regularly at Elon football and basketball games among other athletics events. Grayson Whitt hasn’t missed a home football game since Rhodes Stadium opened in 2001.

“It is good to give to something that you believe in, and I believe in Elon athletics,” Whitt said. “I like the athletics family at Elon. It is a very progressive and positive environment.”

Elon Director of Athletics Dave Blank thanked the Whitts for their loyalty to Elon athletics through the years.

“We are grateful to Grayson and Connie Whitt for their steadfast support of Elon student-athletes,” Blank said. “Their long history of investing in our athletics programs has helped fuel a winning tradition and allowed our students to compete at the highest level.”

As an alumnus, Whitt has had a front-row seat to the growth and rise of Elon’s athletics program, beginning with the move from NAIA to NCAA Division II and ultimately to Division I competition (FCS football) in the Colonial Athletic Association.

“I like that Elon’s administration has pushed athletics to the next level and that’s been a bright spot for me to watch that happen,” Whitt said. “It’s good to be playing schools like Richmond and College of Charleston and UNC-Wilmington. The name recognition of playing similar and higher-level teams is what I have really liked at Elon.”

Whitt credits Blank and his predecessor, Alan White, who led Elon athletics for nearly three decades, for establishing a tradition of excellence in athletics.

“Alan White was instrumental in getting that rolling,” Whitt said. “He was a great leader and planted a lot of seeds for the athletics department to progress, and Dave Blank has certainly continued that progression.”

Whitt called White a “tough but fair professor” and valuable mentor during his time as a student in the Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education, where he earned a degree in physical education. Whitt served as sports editor of The Pendulum student newspaper and also worked in Elon’s sports information office.

Whitt said he’s proud to provide for Elon athletics in his estate plan as part of A Will to Lead and the Elon LEADS Campaign.

“It is a legacy gift that is going to help the future of Elon athletics after I’m gone,” said Whitt, who retired this year following a 43-year career in banking in North Carolina. “It was important for me to leave a legacy that way. I want Elon athletics to continue to be successful going forward and excel in all sports.”

The Whitts are parents of Elon alumni Brad Whitt ’08 and Meredith Whitt ’09. The Whitts are members of the 1889 Society and Order of the Oak, which recognizes donors who make estate and other planned gifts to Elon.

A Will to Lead & The Elon LEADS Campaign

To learn more about A Will to Lead and the benefits of estate gifts, contact Brian Baker, associate vice president and director of principal gifts, at (336) 278-7453 or bbaker7@elon.edu.

Elon LEADS is the largest fundraising campaign in the university’s history and supports four main priorities: scholarships for graduates the world needs, access to engaged learning opportunities such as study abroad, research and internships, support for faculty and staff mentors who matter and Elon’s iconic campus.

Every gift to the university—including annual, endowment, capital, estate and other planned gifts—for any designation counts as a gift to the campaign, which will support students and strengthen Elon for generations to come. To learn more about how you can make an impact, visit www.elonleads.com. Elon LEADS concludes on December 31, 2022.