Gayle and Tom Benson Foundation Gives $1 Million to Delgado Community College

February 07, 2020

On Thursday, Feb. 6, Mrs. Gayle Benson and executives of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans visited the City Park Campus of Delgado Community College to announce a million-dollar donation to Delgado by the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Foundation. Mrs. Benson is the owner of the two professional sports franchises.

The Benson gift is being used to jumpstart a fundraising campaign for the Delgado Athletics Department called The Tradition Campaign. The funds will go towards construction of a new athletics training and educational facility at Delgado’s main campus, next door to Kirsch-Rooney Stadium—home field of the Delgado Dolphins baseball team.

Delgado Chancellor Larissa Littleton-Steib, Delgado Foundation Board Chairman Lee Giorgio, and Athletics Director and Head Baseball Coach Joe Scheuermann joined Mrs. Benson at a ceremony to announce the donation and campaign to the public and the Delgado community. Several hundred people attended the announcement ceremony, including current and past Delgado baseball players and coaches, Delgado faculty and staff, community partners, and Delgado administrators.

Mrs. Benson praised Delgado’s important work in the New Orleans community and the rich legacy of the college and its baseball program. “The gift I make today is in honor of the entire Scheuermann family and the contribution they have made to this great school, the New Orleans sports community, and to our city,” she said. “We hope that this gift and The Tradition Campaign will lead to thousands of more wins for Delgado.”

Giorgio, noting the heavy rain that fell as the ceremony began inside the Student Life Center, quipped, “These are not raindrops. They are holy water—the tears of Rags Scheuermann and Tom Benson watching these proceedings from above.” Both men, legends in the New Orleans sports community, are now deceased. “Years ago,” Giorgio continued, “many of the people in our city did not understand the mission and benefits of a community college. The Delgado Foundation has worked hard to change that, and today’s generosity by Mrs. Benson and her team goes a long way to helping us in our efforts to promote Delgado Community College as a vital, essential resource.”

Chancellor Steib noted, “Athletic excellence at Delgado is one reason we are known throughout our city, state, and region for providing our students top-quality higher education that leads to successful careers and transfer to four-year schools.” She praised Mrs. Benson for her generosity towards Delgado and improving life in the New Orleans region. “Thanks to the support and generosity of Gayle Benson and the Benson Foundation, and the contributions of the Delgado Foundation, not only will Delgado student-athletes benefit. Our entire Delgado community can enjoy and take pride in an enhanced student experience,” Steib said.

Coach Scheuermann, taking the podium before a room filled with his current and former players, colleagues, associates, and family members, said the announcement is one he has been waiting decades to make. “This is obviously a great gift, but also a very treasured gift for our program,” he said. “It’s no longer a dream. Lots of players have come through our program over the past 30-plus years. It’s those players who built this tradition and now they’re finally getting a building to house that great tradition. Our thanks to the Benson Foundation and the Delgado leadership just aren’t enough to express what this means to us.”

Renderings of the new Gayle and Tom Benson Athletic Complex were formally unveiled at the event. The nearly 5,000 square foot footprint will house the baseball program’s first permanent locker room in its four-decade existence, replacing a repurposed metal storage container outfitted as a locker room that was called the “Fish Tank,” a takeoff from the team’s Dolphins moniker. The new complex also will include coaches’ offices, equipment storage, the Athletic Department’s training room and a student-athlete academic center in which players from Delgado’s three NJCAA sports programs--baseball , and men's and women's basketball--can conduct study hall, tutoring and advising sessions, and team meetings. In addition, a multi-purpose space on the second floor will accommodate athletic events and gatherings with a balcony that overlooks the baseball stadium’s Rags Scheuermann Field.

Manning Architects of New Orleans designed the Gayle and Tom Benson Athletic Complex with consultation from CSRS Inc. The Delgado Foundation and Liberty Bank are leadership partners and supporters of the project.

Following the announcement ceremony, a formal groundbreaking took place outdoors with Mrs. Benson, Chancellor Steib, Chairman Giorgio, Coach Scheuermann, Saints-Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha, architect Ray Manning, CSRS Inc. President Tim Barfield, Delgado faculty and staff, and current and former Delgado student-athletes.

The Tradition Campaign will officially kick off on Feb. 11, coinciding with opening week of Delgado’s 2020 baseball season. 

Delgado Community College has been a Proud Partner of the New Orleans Pelicans since 2014.


Delgado and Benson
From left, at the Feb. 6 ceremony announcing a million-dollar gift to Delgado Community College by the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Foundation: Delgado Athletics Director and Head Baseball Coach Joe Scheuermann, Delgado Chancellor Larissa Littleton-Steib, Gayle Benson, New Orleans Saints and Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha, and Delgado Foundation Board Chairman Lee Giorgio.