TCU, Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson announce endowment fund

LaDainian Tomlinson takes pride in being one of TCU’s most visible ambassadors.

He had a standout college career before putting together a Pro Football Hall of Fame career in 11 seasons in the NFL. Now, he’s giving back to his university.

Tomlinson and TCU Athletics announced the creation of ‘The Tomlinson Student-Athlete Development Endowment Fund’ on Monday, which is designed to support student-athletes from all of TCU’s sports programs with their careers and lives following their graduations.

“It’s not about what they do here, it’s about what they do when they leave this university and they represent Texas Christian University,” Tomlinson said. “That’s what it’s really about.”

The fund will be from private contributions at the inaugural “A Night with LT at TCU” event planned for May 16 on campus.

TCU is working in partnership with the Team America Foundation, Tomlinson’s signature social platform, which has similar core values such as service and engagement, character and leadership, community and spiritual uplift and economic empowerment.

TCU has made a concerted effort in helping student-athletes prepare for life after their college careers are over. The school hosted a networking night with local business leaders and donors last fall, something that drew positive reviews.

The university also emphasizes to its student-athletes the importance of managing finances and what the real world looks like after graduation, whether it’s a professional sports career or another career.

“We tell parents we’ll help your kids become responsible citizens and better leaders,” TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati said. “I firmly believe that. I think that this is another big step in that direction.

“It would’ve been easy for LT to write a check and, say, ‘Hey, best of luck to you.’ The fact that he’s here spending time with me, our student athletes, getting involved, rolling up his sleeves if you will … LT practices what he preaches.”

Tomlinson said there’s no question being a TCU alum is “a sense of pride,” and something he didn’t take lightly going into his professional career.

The Chargers drafted him with the fifth overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, and he went on to become one of the best running backs of his generation.

“I knew there was a certain level of expectations, but quite frankly there were a lot of question marks too when I entered the National Football League,” Tomlinson said. “He played at TCU. Not the best competition. Can he really play at the NFL level? All these different things. So every step of the way, I knew who I represented and I knew eventually where home was. This is home.”

Another Tomlinson

Tomlinson is an avid follower of TCU football, and is excited to see how his nephew, Trevius Hodges-Tomlinson, follows in his footsteps.

Hodges-Tomlinson, who played at Waco Midway, is part of Gary Patterson’s 2019 recruiting class and will join the program this summer as a cornerback and returner. He’s spent the past few summers training with LaDainian in Westlake, going through NFL-style workouts.

“I’m very excited,” LaDainian said. “He’s truly excited and I think just having an opportunity to watch his development over the years, I’m really proud of him. The kid has worked extremely hard. He lives with me during the summers, and I try to break him every summer. He wouldn’t break. I just wanted to see if he had it in him. If he was TCU strong, you know?

“He’s going to come here and fit right in with the culture. The type of player and student athlete that Gary wants him to be, I think he’s going to fit in tremendously fine.”

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram