INDIANAPOLIS – Friends and fraternity brothers of 1989 Butler University graduate Matt White have made a major gift to Butler University toward the second phase of renovations to Hinkle Fieldhouse, set to begin in May 2019. With the gift, the donors have chosen to honor White, who passed away after a 19-year battle with ALS on Friday, Feb. 8, by naming the practice court in the Efroymson Family Gym in his memory. The practice court will hereafter be known as the Matt White Court.
White was a standout member of the track and cross country teams during his years at Butler and a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity. Throughout White’s life, and particularly throughout his battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, he embodied The Butler Way, accepting the realities of a debilitating disease with grace while putting others above himself.
The donation to the Athletics Capital Improvement fund in White’s honor is a fitting tribute to a tenacious and loyal Bulldog who maintained a fierce devotion to Butler Athletics throughout his life, expressing in his final days a desire to watch one last Butler men’s basketball game. After White passed away Friday evening surrounded by friends and family, the Bulldogs posted a road win at Georgetown Saturday afternoon in his honor.
“Every Bulldog has a lot to learn about The Butler Way from Matt, his story and his toughness,” said Barry Collier, Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics. “Some have referred to Matt as Butler’s biggest fan. And while that might be true, Matt should also be known as one of Butler’s most inspiring Bulldogs for the way he lived his life.”
After earning his telecommunications degree from Butler in 1989, White went on to a successful career in advertising sales with Emmis Communications. White retired to Florida a few years after his ALS diagnosis in 2000, and despite being given a short and grim prognosis, White made the most of his remaining years with his wife Shartrina, his parents, and a large group of devoted friends.
Despite losing the ability to speak, eat and move, White found ways to continue enjoying many of the things he loved, including fishing in the Gulf waters off the west coast of Florida near his home with the help of his family and an innovative fishing pole he could control with his eye movements. He also remained devoted to following Butler Athletics. When Butler competed in the Final Four in Indianapolis in 2010, Coach Brad Stevens invited White to speak to the team before the semifinal matchup. White labored for days at his computer to type out a speech, which Shartrina read to the team.
“I try to live like you play,” he wrote. “You are my inspiration.”
White long outlived his original prognosis and inspired all who knew him, particularly his Butler family.
“I know I speak for a lot of former Bulldogs when I say we are thankful to have gotten a chance to know Matt,” said Stevens, Butler’s men’s basketball coach from 2007-13. “Despite all that he was battling, his spirits were always focused on helping others, and his words always were inspiring and encouraging.”
The Matt White Court will serve as a daily reminder of a beloved Bulldog’s grit, determination, and devotion to Butler Athletics. This legacy gift will continue to inspire future generations of Bulldogs in White’s memory and will support major enhancements to the Efroymson Family Gym. With new flooring, lighting, and air conditioning, the renovated gym will mirror the look of the main Hinkle Fieldhouse court. The renovations will also include installing air conditioning throughout Hinkle Fieldhouse and refurbishment of the Men’s Soccer locker room.
The Matt White Scholarship was previously established at Butler University in 2004 by White’s family and friends as a way to pay tribute to a great Bulldog. The scholarship supports Butler student-athletes with preference given to those who share Matt’s interest in the field of broadcast communications. On Saturday (Feb. 16), Butler’s men’s basketball team will host DePaul at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Butler is planning a “Matt White-out” and asks fans to wear white to celebrate his life.
“Matt White represented the very best of Butler University,” said Butler University President James Danko. “His courage, wisdom, and perseverance inspired us all. We are grateful that through this generous gift to name the Matt White Court, future generations of student-athletes can be inspired by Matt’s legacy as they train on the floor bearing his name.”
About Butler University
An influx of philanthropic support has aided Butler University’s dramatic growth in recent years. Pursuant to the Butler 2020 Strategic Plan, the University and donor partners have invested in new campus facilities, academic programs, and co-curricular offerings. In the past five years, Butler has built the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts, the Sunset Avenue parking garage including a streetscape beautification project and renovated Hinkle Fieldhouse. In addition, the University partnered with American Campus Communities to build the Fairview House and Irvington House residential communities. The Andre B. Lacy School of Business will open the doors to its new 110,000 square foot home in the fall of 2019, and fundraising is underway to complete a $93 million Science Complex expansion and renovation.
Butler University is a nationally recognized comprehensive university encompassing six colleges: Arts, Business, Communication, Education, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Pharmacy & Health Sciences. Approximately 4,500 undergraduate and 541 graduate students are enrolled at Butler, representing 46 states and 39 countries. Ninety-five percent of Butler students will participate in some form of internship, student teaching, clinical rotation, research, or service learning by the time they graduate. Butler students have had significant success after graduation as demonstrated by the University’s 97% placement rate within six months of graduation. The University was recently listed as the No. 1 regional university in the Midwest, according to U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Rankings, in addition to being included in The Princeton Review’s annual “best colleges” guidebook