Meet Terry Pegula, Penn State Benefactor
CHN Staff Report
Terry Pegula and his wife Kim live in Boca Raton, Fla. They are now known in college hockey circles as the benefactors that made Penn State's move to Division I possible. Terry Pegula graduated from Penn state in 1973 with a degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering. In 1983, he started East Resources, Inc., and built it into one of the largest privately-held companies in the U.S.
Recently, Pegula sold land in the Appalachians to Royal Dutch Shell valued at $4.7 billion.
The husband and wife pair also founded Black River Music Group, which is located in Nashville.
Pegula spoke about why he wanted to make the $88 million donation that will help fund a new on-campus hockey arena at Penn State. And it started when he met with Joe Battista, the former successful club team coach who know works in fund-raising in the athletic department.
"I said to Joe, 'Why doesn't PSU have a hockey program?' And Joe began to inform me that money doesn't fall out of the sky from Harrrisburg for schools like Penn State to do projects like this. It probably would require a large lead gift followed by subsequent gifts to build a state of the art arena. And, bingo, I said, 'Why don't I work with the athletic department and see what we can do. Maybe I can help you raise money on this thing.' We had probably half a dozen meetings. The next day, (athletic director) Tim Curley called me and started our first meeting. And I quickly determined that the gift that was going to be required to pull this thing off was substantially higher than I thought."
"We are taught in Matthew 6 'do not lay up treasures on earth, lay them up in heaven.' I thought long and hard if I really waned to contribute this much money to a hockey arena — a treasure on Earth. Then I thought back to my days as a rink rat when my young son went to learn to skate, youth hockey. I helped coach the hockey team, and we built character in our players — our players showed up at their hockey games with their collared shirts and ties, and they were 9 and 10 years old — and I think I got my answer. We had subsequent meetings, then I finally got to meet (school president) Graham (Spanier). Graham is very passionate about this project. I was a little bit hesistant at first because I didn't know what his attitude would be. But I can say that Graham not only makes a good part time Nittany Lion mascot and baton twirler, but he's a heckuva university president and I thank him for all his efforts."
"We brought the project forward in 2010 this year. I met a fellow — my friend Cliff Benson — on the day he retired from Deloitte Touche in Pittsburg. I asked if he had anything to do in his retuirnement. He said I've got to be kidding me. He was aware of what we were doing with hockey. I live in Florida, we have an office in Denver, an office in Pennsylvania, an office in West Virginia, and I spend half of my time chaging my 16-year old daughter around the country with her tennis tournaments. I told (Benson) I need help or this won't get done. Cliff took the project under his wing and we stand here today with ink on paper."
Pegula said he recently was invited to attend a Penguins game by their ownership.
"I was intrdouced to everyone from Mario (Lemieux) down to the assistant coaches, and I couldn't believe how excited they were about this project. I couldn't even believe they knew about it. They said, 'I can't believe we're going to have a hockey program just to our east.' I thought that was pretty cool. Then ... a kid named Sidney Crosby shoook my hand. He said, 'Mr. Pegula, this is a great thing you're doing for hockey.' And I thought that was pretty cool.'
"So maybe some day in these hills of Pennsylvania, maybe we'll find a Pennsylvania Sidney Crosby. And maybe he plays his youth hockey here (at the new arena), and plays his Division I hockey at Penn State. And his teammates will come from New York, New England, the Midwest, Canada, Europe — and I think that's awesome."