NORMAN, Okla. -- The Oklahoma Athletics Department and women’s basketball program announced the addition of four endowed scholarships. The scholarships were donated by John and Mary Nichols, The Fastbreak Club and Sooner Stilettos in honor of Marita Hynes, the Don Criswell family and Henry P. Roberson. The generous gifts raise the number of women’s basketball endowed scholarships to 12 with the eventual goal of reaching 15.
The four new endowers will be honored at halftime of the Bedlam women’s game on Sunday. The Sooners and Cowgirls will square off at the Lloyd Noble Center at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast within Oklahoma by the Sooner Sports Network and will also be carried by ESPN’s Full Court package.
“Our goal with the endowment program remains the same. We want to create a perpetual source of funding for the women’s basketball program an idea that leads to self-sufficiency as well,” said OU head coach Sherri Coale.
“The full scholarship support provided by these generous donors allows us to recruit the best and brightest student-athletes while increasing opportunities for mentoring and establishing special bonds that will tie generations of Sooners together,” Coale continued, noting that the program establishes an ongoing connection between the donating family, the foundation player and the scholarship recipient, a current team member.”
Each scholarship is named after the individual, family or group that donated the money. A former Sooner great, who upheld the highest standards on the court, in the classroom and in the community, is then chosen by the endowment board as the Foundation Player. Finally, a current player is hand selected by the donor to receive the scholarship. After that player’s academic career is completed, the scholarship is awarded to a new student-athlete.
John and Mary Nichols are both OU graduates; he earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1936, and she is a 1937 Phi Beta Kappa graduate. They have been committed OU supporters for more than six decades. In 1970, Mr. Nichols founded Devon Energy, which today is one of OU’s most generous corporate partners, recently making a $10 million commitment to Devon Energy Hall for the College of Engineering. They are longtime contributors to scholarships, including creating an endowed scholarship fund for a starter on the women’s basketball team. Mr. and Mrs. Nichols also established the School of Dance’s first endowed faculty position, which is designated for the school’s director. They established the John and Mary Nichols Rare Books and Special Collections at Bizzell Memorial Library. Additionally, they founded the Nichols Graduate Business Center in downtown Oklahoma City to give employed people opportunities to pursue their MBA degrees.
The Foundation Player on the Nichols scholarship is Tami Rogers. The Mont Belvieu, Texas native, brought her basketball abilities north to Oklahoma for the 1985-86 season. By the time she competed four seasons, she ranked 11th in career points in the OU record books with 1,353. The all-around player was an outstanding shooter, good rebounder and an intelligent player during her Sooner career. She averaged a career best 19.7 points per game her senior year and still ranks in the top-10 in four categories. She was also a wiz in the classroom, where her hard work helped her garner Academic All-America honors her junior and senior seasons.
The Nichols have chosen sophomore forward Carolyn Winchester as the current recipient of the scholarship.
The Fast Break Club and Sooner Stilettos made the commitment to honor Sooner great Marita Hynes with a scholarship bearing her name. Hynes is synonymous with women’s athletics at the University of Oklahoma. Hynes, an early champion for Title IX, began her career in Sooner athletics in 1976 and was promoted to Senior Woman Administrator in 1995. Among her countless career highlights was the building of the OU Softball Complex and the hiring of young and unproven coaches Patty Gasso and Sherri Coale.
Desiree Taylor has been named the Foundation Player for the Endowment. Taylor was one of those players Coach Coale lovingly labeled a glue player. Her hard work in practice and in the classroom set an example for her teammates and helped build a program that reached the Final Four one year after her graduation. Taylor was a four-year letterwinner and one year starter, who played in 113 games and started 35. She averaged 4.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game during her time in Crimson and Cream.
Britney Brown is currently receiving the Hynes Scholarship.
Don Criswell graduated from high school in 1954 and entered the army at age 17. Don went on to attend the University of Oklahoma and received his BBA in 1960 and MBA in 1961. His time on the OU campus was one of memories and life transition. It was his time as an OU student that his love for OU athletics began as he was a regular in attendance for all sports.
Don’s interest in the endowment program was an offspring of his own college scholarship. A $500 scholarship from Conoco made him understand the importance of giving back. He understands the vital importance of education, and appreciates the vision and leadership that Sherri Coale provides with that same idea.
The first OU Women’s Basketball game Don attended was OU versus Illinois in 2001. The first half was error free and Stacy Dales, LaNeishea Caufield, and Caton Hill couldn`t miss and led by a big score at halftime. A new set of emotions and excitement began during that half of basketball, and Don has been a loyal following and contributor ever since.
“This women’s basketball endowment is my way of rewarding OU for the fine education I received.”
Criswell has chosen former Sooner Shannon Selmon. Selmon played for Oklahoma from 1999-2002 and was an integral part of Sooner basketball’s rise to elite status. The Norman native served a captain on the 2002 Final Four and Big 12 Championship team During her four years on the team, the consummate leader helped OU post a 99-32 record, which stands as the most successful four-year run in program history. Selmon still resides in Norman and has teamed with her father Leroy, brother Zach and sister Lauren to found the Shine Foundation. The Shine Foundation has worked extensively in the war torn country of Liberia and has donated countless man hours at the Rainbow Town Orphanage.
Freshman forward Amanda Thompson is currently receiving the Criswell scholarship.
Henry P. Roberson was born in 1946 in Lawton, OK, the son of CW2 David and Bertie Roberson. He attended Lawton Public Schools, graduating from Lawton High School in 1964. He matriculated to OU in fall of that year, and graduated in 1967 with a BA in History with High Honors. He studied at Conception Seminary in Missouri and was ordained in 1971. His professional career has been in church work, hospitals, and hospices in Oklahoma and a thirty-year career in the Oklahoma Army National Guard.
He retired to Norman in 2005. Besides part-time work at St. Mark the Evangelist Church, he is a docent at the Fred Jones, Jr Museum of Art and with several community groups in the Oklahoma City area.
“My family, church, and the Army inspired me with the goal of making a difference by what you do and how you do it,” said Roberson. “I was invited as a guest to a women’s basketball game and saw and listened to a coach and to a team dedicated to making a difference as well. I knew I had found a home in people dedicated to excellence in basketball and in life. My hope is that the scholarship will make a difference in lives of many, and I feel honored to be allowed to assist this team.”
Roberson and the OU staff selected Jamie Talbert-Wyrick to serve as the endowment’s scholarship player. Talbert was praised as the ultimate team player during her two years as a starter in Crimson and Cream. The Elkhart, Kansas native transferred to Oklahoma from Seward County Junior College prior to the 2000-01 season. She averaged 7.6 points and 4.8 rebounds during her career. During her time at OU, the Sooners won 60 of their 70 games, two Big 12 regular season titles and one Big 12 postseason title. She was also a vital cog on two straight Sweet 16 teams and the 2002 squad that reached the National Championship Game.
Oklahoma native and freshman point guard Jenna Plumley is currently receiving the Roberson scholarship.
The Lucille “Marie” Austin Women’s Basketball Scholarship
Foundation Player: Stephanie Simon
Former Recipient: Lauren Shoush
Current Recipient: Courtney Paris
The Bob and Ann Coleman Women’s Basketball Scholarship
Foundation Player: Phylesha Whaley
Former Recipient: Antoinette Wadworth
Current Recipient: Krista Sanchez
The Jim and Christy Everest Women’s Basketball Scholarship
Foundation Player: Caton Hill
Current Recipient: Erin Higgins
The Mary Jane Noble Women’s Basketball Scholarship
Foundation Player: Stacey Dales
Former Recipient: Laura Andrews
Current Recipient: Ashley Paris
A donation from a philanthropic woman whose desire it is to remain anonymous
Foundation Player: Teresa Turner
Former/Current Recipient: Beky Preston
The Wayne T. “Dusty” and LaFawn Biddle Women’s Basketball Scholarship
Foundation Player: Jen Cunningham
Current Recipient: Leah Rush
The Robert and Doris Klabzuba Women’s Basketball Scholarship
Foundation Player: Molly McGuire-Snively
Current Recipient: Chelsi Welch
The John and Sue Gibbs Women’s Basketball Scholarship
Foundation Player: Dionnah Jackson
Current Recipient: Kendra Moore
The Mary and John Nichols Scholarship
Foundation Player: Tami Rogers
Current Recipient: Carolyn Winchester
The Fast Break Club and Sooner Stilettos Marita Hynes Women’s Basketball Scholarship
Foundation Player: Desiree Taylor
Current Recipient: Britney Brown
The Don Criswell Family Women’s Basketball Scholarship
Foundation Player: Shannon Selmon
Current Recipient: Amanda Thompson
The Henry P. Roberson Family Women’s Basketball Scholarship
Foundation Player: Jamie Talbert-Wyrick
Current Recipient: Jenna Plumley