Merlin Olsen Field Campaign

Utah State University recognizes Merlin Olsen as one of our most noteworthy alumni. In recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field, we have resolved to name the football field in his honor. We will use the opportunity of the field naming as
On Saturday, October 23rd, 2010 Utah State University honored one of its greatest alumnus and the most decorated football player in school history with the unveiling of a larger-than-life-size bronze statue of Merlin Olsen on Saturday with a special ceremony on the South Plaza of Romney Stadium prior to USU's Homecoming football game against Hawai'i.

A large crowd attended the ceremony, featuring Olsen's family, friends, former teammates and former USU players among the dignitaries in attendance.

NFL Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen, the greatest athlete in Utah State University history, passed away at City of Hope Hospital near Los Angeles on March 11, 2010 after a courageous battle with cancer.


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Gifts received for the Merlin Olsen Field initiative will be used to fund three key priorities for Utah State University, its Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, and Merlin and Susan Olsen.  Gifts from many donors will be combined to accomplish the three objectives:

1)    Football Competitive Excellence Fund

Merlin Olsen’s years as a student-athlete at Utah State University represent a high point in the history of football competitiveness.  Since his days as a player, the competition for talented players and coaches has become fierce.  One of the biggest impediments to success for Utah State University Football has been aging facilities.  Recently that gap has been closed with the opening of Jim and Carol Laub Athletic Complex—a state-of-the-art locker room, training and academic facility funded through the investment of our students and private donors.


The next step needed to restore USU Football to the kind of excellence it exhibited in Merlin’s era is private investment for scheduling and personnel.  To that end, we seek to use the occasion of the naming of Merlin Olsen Field as an opportunity to add to the success of the Football Competitive Excellence Fund—an initiative that Merlin has personally supported.  This $2.5 million initiative has already received commitments from other donors for more than half the cost; a portion of the funds raised through the Merlin Olsen Field project will support the Football Competitive Excellence Fund.


2) Student Athlete Scholarships

Utah State University student-athletes are some of the most accomplished in the world.  Utah State is a perennial leader in its conference and in the nation in scholastic achievement.  Because of the relatively small population of the State of Utah, though, a high proportion of our students are from out-of-state.  This places inordinate pressure on the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics to fund their scholarships.  A key part of future excellence and competitiveness is to fund as many athletic scholarships as possible through endowments.  To that end, a portion of the funds raised will used to create the Merlin and Susan Olsen Athletic Endowment, and the annual proceeds will be used to fund student-athlete scholarships. 

3)    Commemorative Statue

In order to let Merlin’s legacy light the way for generations of Utah State University students and alumni, we propose the commissioning of a statue of Merlin, to be placed in a suitable, prominent location at the south end of Romney Stadium.  The sculptor has already been chosen; since 1983 Blair Buswell has been responsible for creating the busts of players inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.  The statue will be accompanied by a commemorative plaque detail Merlin’s accomplishments.


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