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MSU Receives $3 Million Gift for Spartan Athletics

Secchia Family supporting football and basketball programs

Peter and Joan Secchia

Helping to ensure the future success of Michigan State University athletics, alumni Peter and Joan Secchia have made a $3 million gift that is being directed toward the endowment of the defensive coordinator position with the MSU football team and capital improvements for the MSU men’s basketball program.

The leadership gift is in support of Empower Extraordinary – the Campaign for Michigan State. 

“Peter and Joan Secchia have been steadfast champions of MSU for decades,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “Their commitment to their alma matter has enriched MSU in numerous ways that will be felt for generations. We are grateful for this new gift, which will help us to continue to pursue excellence in our athletic programs.”

The athletics portion of Empower Extraordinary is a $262 million goal and is focused on championship level facilities, increasing its endowment and elevated annual giving.  Named coaching endowments will play a key role in attracting and retaining elite coaches and mentors.

“This gift couldn’t come at a better time,” said MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis.  “As we continue the momentum from the public launch of our campaign this gift touches on two of our critical needs – facilities and endowment, both of which are critical to providing the resources that will ensure the success of future Spartan student-athletes.”

The campaign goal for endowments is $50 million and the Secchia’s gift brings MSU Athletics nearly halfway to that goal.  There are three areas of endowment support within MSU Athletics – scholarship, program and coaching endowments. 

“After two United States Marine Corps enlistments MSU allowed me back to finish my degree,” said Secchia.  “While I was chairman of the MSU graduation celebrations in spring of 1962, I said to myself ‘do not ever forget these people who were good to you.’ Michigan State has been good to me and it always makes me proud of my certificate of graduation from the college of business.  I have not forgotten.”

On Saturday November 8, the Spartan Fund will host over 100 endowment donors for a reception for scholarship donors to meet their student-athlete recipients and those with program and coaching endowments to be recognized. 

“We continue to see great momentum within MSU athletics not just in competition, but our donors continue to rise to the challenge of doing what they can to keep success going.  In the end, it comes down to providing great leaders with great private support and we’re thrilled the Secchias recognize that,” said Chuck Sleeper Senior Associate AD for Development. 

Peter Secchia a 1963 graduate of MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business and the former U.S. Ambassador to Italy is a member of the Athletic Director’s Campaign Leadership Council, a group of 33 campaign volunteers and leaders from across the country. 

As one of the people most responsible for helping MSU bring its College of Human Medicine to Grand Rapids, Ambassador Secchia provided the lead gift for the college’s new headquarters there, now known as The Secchia Center.  He also provided the largest outright cash gift received by an MSU women’s intercollegiate sports program to build Secchia Softball Stadium on Old College Field.

In 1997, he received an honorary doctorate of humanities from MSU.

Together with his wife Joan, a 1964 graduate of MSU’s College of Education, he has hosted dozens of university events and has chaired several campus building projects.  Joan serves on the campaign board of the College of Education and has long been an active community advocate in Grand Rapids, serving on many boards of charitable organizations.

In October, MSU announced that the Secchia’s will serve as honorary chairs of President Simon’s Campaign Cabinet. Peter previously served on the 2002-2007 President’s Campaign Cabinet for The Campaign for MSU. 

For more information on the MSU Athletics and the Empower Extraordinary campaign go to or call (517) 432-4610.