The Coyle family is asking for a refund of a $500,000 donation they gave to the University of Wisconsin tennis program five years ago, citing a misuse of the funds.
Richard Coyle asked for a refund on behalf of his late mother, Marion Lou Coyle, whose will set aside $500,000 to go to the UW tennis program, according to The Cap Times. She intended for it to be used for tennis scholarships to honor her late husband and Richard’s father, who had graduated from UW while on a tennis scholarship.
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Marion Lou Coyle’s intentions for the money to go to scholarships were not specified formally, so the donation was eventually used for renovations for UW’s outdoor tennis spaces.
“We didn’t want to pour concrete,” Coyle said to The Cap Times. “We wanted to enrich lives.”
UW Director of News and Media Relations Meredith McGlone said in an email statement to The Badger Herald that when a donation is made to the university itself, and not to the UW Foundation, the funds are sent to the UW System Trust.
McGlone also said that in these cases, the university works with provided documentation so the intended usage of donations match the financial needs of the university.
Richard Coyle stated that the Marion Lou Coyle Trust had donated to the UW Foundation, but UW spokesman John Lucas said in an email statement to The Cap Times that due to the language of the donation, it was actually made to the university, not the Foundation.
“The specific language related to this bequest was that the gift be distributed to the ‘University of Wisconsin, currently located in Madison, Wisconsin’ (not the UW Foundation) and ‘be used in support of the tennis program,’ however the UW Athletic Department deemed best,” Mcglone wrote in her email to The Badger Herald.
UW Athletics staff and men’s and women’s tennis coaches corresponded with the Coyle family. In every correspondence, the family supported the university’s use of their donation to renovate the outdoor tennis facilities, McGlone said.
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Coyle requested a full refund of the $500,000 donation from the UW Foundation, UW System and UW leadership twice in 2019 and 2020, as well as to the Board of Regents in early 2020, though none of the organizations or individuals have responded, according to The Cap Times.
“We regret that the donor’s family has a misperception of the university’s actions in this matter, but we continue to be grateful for the gift and the passionate support for UW-Madison tennis programs,” McGlone wrote in her email.