RCW: WEF Donor Spotlight: Tom Rupp

A member of the 1953 National Champion men’s cross country team, Tom Rupp made life-long relationships while living out a dream as a student-athlete at Kansas. A Williams Fund member since 1995, Rupp now makes that dream possible for other Jayhawks with his financial support.

What brought you to the University of Kansas?
I’m originally from Hays, but I came to Lawrence in the fall of 1952 thanks to a scholarship to be a part of the Jayhawk track & cross country teams. Being a student-athlete here was incredible. There was a great comradery on the team and I feel very fortunate to have met so many great people during my time as a student-athlete at the University of Kansas.
 1953 National Champion Men's Cross Country Team
1953 National Champion Men’s Cross Country Team

During your sophomore year, in 1953, the cross country team won a National Championship, what do you recall about that experience?
It was an unbelievable moment! When I came to KU, I never would have dreamed that I would have an opportunity to accomplish something like that. We knew we had some talented guys on the team, like Wes Santee, but to win a championship was very special. To make the moment even better, five out of the six guys on the team were from the state of Kansas.  

Did you and your teammates remain close following your time at KU?
Absolutely! I consider them to be some of my best friends. We always made it a priority to get together with our families as often as we could. Sadly, a few of the guys are no longer with us, but we will all remain close until the very end.

As a freshman at KU, you took a class taught by the legendary Phog Allen, what can you tell us about Phog as a teacher?
He was a man that was ahead of his time. I remember he always came to class with an interesting story or life lesson to share. We all know he knew a great deal about the game of basketball, but what set him apart was his ability to relate to people regardless of their background.

It has been nearly 60 years since you were a Jayhawk student-athlete, why have you continued to support the Williams Education Fund??
KU has provided me and my family with so many opportunities both personally and professionally for which I am truly grateful. I can say, without question, that my life is much better for having attended the University of Kansas. By supporting our current student-athletes through the Williams Fund, this is my way of giving back and saying thank you to the University for what it has done for me through the years.

The Williams Education Fund generates financial support for all University of Kansas student-athletes with a responsibility to facilitate, promote and enhance academic and athletic experiences. In 2016, the Williams Education Fund has established a goal of raising $19.5 million in support of 500+ student-athletes through the WEF Unrestricted and Scholarship funds. In order to reach this goal, it will take the support of Jayhawks from around the world as we strive to build the Williams Fund to 8,000 members strong. Learn more and join us on our quest to reach 8,000 members by visiting WilliamsFund.com/8KforWEF.