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UNLV basketball receives $8M donation from James J. Baumberger estate

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Posted at 1:15 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 16:28:42-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A historic $8 million philanthropic gift from the James J. Baumberger estate, which is the largest estate gift in UNLV Athletics history, will provide permanent and life-changing scholarship and strategic support for UNLV men’s and women’s basketball student-athletes.

“This gift is transformational in every regard,” said UNLV President Dr. Keith E. Whitfield. “The impact on our basketball programs and athletics department is monumental and what it will mean for student-athlete success is even more exciting. It is a tribute to the trajectory of UNLV Athletics and a testament to a true Rebel in Jim Baumberger who leaves us a life-changing legacy.”

A German immigrant who settled in Las Vegas in the 1960s, Baumberger adopted the Runnin’ Rebels as his hometown team, becoming a mainstay at the Thomas & Mack Center and witnessing championship basketball under legendary coach, Jerry Tarkanian.

Runnin’ Rebel Basketball became family to Baumberger, and he surrounded himself with friends equally devoted to the success of the program. His love for basketball inspired a sincere appreciation for the student-athlete experience and Baumberger came to see a basketball scholarship as a gateway to a life-changing education.

Baumberger passed away in July 2016, but his passion for student-athlete academic growth continues under UNLV men’s basketball head coach T.J. Otzelberger.

The Runnin’ Rebels set a team record for GPA this past fall, earning a collective 3.57.

Baumberger was devoted to the Lady Rebels as well, and the $8 million estate gift will extend equally to the women’s program under new head coach Lindy La Rocque.

The Baumberger Estate Commitment, additionally, punctuates what has been a successful effort to endow the men’s basketball program. Launched in fall 2018, the Runnin’ Rebel Legacy Campaign set out to build a multi-million dollar endowment to permanently underwrite scholarship support. The Baumberger estate gift complements generous contributions from the Bill and Bonnie Paulos Family, the Dawn and Aldo Madrigrano Family, the Findlay Family, Penn and Sandi Elletson and Boyd Gaming.

A ceremony prior to Monday night’s tip-off against Air Force will reveal the Jim Baumberger name on Tarkanian Court at the Thomas & Mack Center, honoring him and forever associating Legacy Campaign donors with the lasting impact their life-changing support will have on Rebel student-athletes.