BGSU’s planned Stroh Center will include a “Court of Champions” thanks to the generosity of a Findlay family.
During Homecoming festivities on Saturday, 1956 alumnus Larry Miles presented a $1 million gift for the practice court. Miles announced that the gift to fund the “Court of Champions,” honoring past championship basketball and volleyball teams, comes from him and in memory of his late wife and brother, Joann (Schroeder) ’55 and Lanny ’57.
The Miles family has been involved with Falcon basketball for decades. Larry served as student manager for the men’s team from 1951-55. Lanny, who was two years younger, came to BGSU to play basketball after a standout career at Findlay High School from 1949-53. Lanny played at BGSU from 1954-55 before he was sidelined by an injury. The family also has watched countless men’s and women’s basketball games over the decades.
“We had the opportunity to do something special for BGSU and for this project,” Miles said. He chose to support the practice court because the space will also be used for social functions, in addition to serving the men’s and women’s basketball teams and the volleyball team.
“This appeals to me because it is an area that will attract the community as well,” Miles explained.
Helping communities has always been a cornerstone for the Miles family. Larry, who retired in 1991 as human resources manager for Marathon-USX, served as a member and chair of both the Alumni Association Board and the Foundation Board, and was recently named a director emeritus of the Foundation Board. He and Joann were instrumental in starting an alumni chapter in Findlay. In 1983, they were presented the Alumni Service Award for their involvement with the alumni association.
Larry and Joann’s children, Eric Miles and Sara Hunziker, honored their parents by creating scholarships in each of their names. The Larry Miles Scholarship supports students in the entrepreneurship program, and the Joann Miles Scholarship is for students from the Troy-Luckey area.
Joann grew up in the Luckey area and graduated from BGSU with an elementary education degree. She taught in school districts in Perrysburg, as well as Findlay and Katy, Texas, where she helped develop gifted education programs. She was a lifetime member of the National Education Association and was a devoted volunteer for the Mazza Museum and for the Mazza Enthusiasts at the University of Findlay. “Prior to her death in April 2007, we were fortunate to celebrate 50 years of marriage in 2006,” Miles said.
In addition to a passion for basketball, Lanny was an outstanding student and president of his junior and senior classes at BGSU. He was very involved in academic and student activities. At the time of his death in 1980, he was employee-relations manager for Marathon Oil’s Research Division in Littleton, Colo.
Larry and Joann joined the BGSU Presidents Club and established the Lanny Miles Memorial Scholarship after Lanny’s death in 1980 to help basketball players attend school during the summer sessions. Sports have been an important part of their connection to BGSU, but they also have supported many initiatives, from scholarships to building projects.
“Larry could be known as ‘Mr. BGSU,’ given the tremendous relationship he has had with Bowling Green. His gift is meaningful at a campus level, because of the impact it has on BGSU, but also at a personal level because of what basketball in general, and Falcon basketball in particular, has meant to Larry and the Miles family,” said BGSU Athletics Director Greg Christopher.
“The Miles family has always had a heart of gold when it comes to BGSU,” said J. Douglas Smith, vice president for University advancement. “This gift is just the latest example of their generosity to BGSU.