GREENVILLE, N.C. - Tapley O. Johnson, III, president of TAPCO Underwriters, Inc., recently pledged a $1 million gift toward a scholarship endowment and facility construction projects at East Carolina University.
"Mr. Johnson's combined gifts will substantially impact thousands of future ECU students and coaches," ECU Director of Athletics Terry Holland said. "The capital portion of the gift will be used as the Kick-Off Gift for the new ECU Olympic Sports Complex Campaign which will encompass a $30 million facility improvement eventually directly impacting every single student-athlete and team here at East Carolina."
Johnson's donation will also set up a $250,000 football position endowment in memory of his great uncle and East Carolina University Athletics Hall of Fame member Jim Johnson with a contribution of $750,000 toward the enhancement of Olympic sports facilities.
"In addition, Mr. Johnson's endowment gift permanently recognizes the Hall of Fame contributions made by former Pirate athlete, coach and administrator, Jim Johnson," Holland stated. "Through these gifts, Mr. Johnson's generosity will pay dividends for generations of ECU student-athletes and coaches while honoring and recognizing the history of ECU athletics."
Johnson, III attended ECU from 1979-83, where he served as Interfraternity Council president in 1981 and Lambda Chi Alpha president in 1980. He was forced to drop out of school just 18 hours shy of completing his undergraduate degree to help start the family business.
"I am honored to be able to help as ECU begins the task of raising $15 million and more toward the costs of new venues for our softball, tennis, soccer and track teams, as well as a much needed practice facility for basketball and volleyball," Johnson said. "I hope the announcement of my lead gift commitment might create some interest and in turn, momentum for this most important campaign to improve ECU's athletic facilities.
"My gift is to honor the past, acknowledge the incredible work currently being done, and to plan for the future of ECU. Hopefully many people will feel compelled to share in whatever way they are able."
A three-phase project to improve Olympic sport facilities is scheduled to begin this fall. The first phase includes a new softball facility that is slated for completion in the spring of 2010. The second phase is a track complex, women's soccer field and nine tennis courts. The third phase is the Olympic sports building that will house coaches and feature other amenities.
The scholarship endowment will be made in memory of Jim Johnson, who played on the school's football, basketball and baseball teams from 1933-37, and was captain of each of the sports at least once. Johnson returned to his alma mater following Navy service during World War II to serve as athletics director from 1946-48. He spent three seasons as football coach and started the East Carolina Educational Foundation to raise money for athletic scholarships. He was inducted into the ECU Athletics Hall Of Fame in 1978.
"My time at East Carolina was very special to me," Johnson stated. "I am very proud of the fine education that I received at East Carolina. It is that education that I give a large amount of credit for the success of our family business. "
Founded in 1983 as a small privately-owned family business, TAPCO Underwriters, Inc. currently employs nearly 200 people and serves over 30,000 insurance producers and agents in 16 states.