November 8, 2004
Campbell serves up strong support for tennis team
The Sacramento State women’s tennis team has achieved national standing in recent years—and it’s been largely due to Bill Campbell.
The alumnus and women’s tennis coach has built the women’s
tennis program with both committed coaching and profits from one of his companies.
He and his partner Ramey Osborne—and their families—have donated
more than $1.1 million over the years.
He’s one of many members of the Sacramento State community who have gone beyond giving time and energy, and made financial investments in University programs they believe in.
You could say he’s world class when it comes to supporting Sacramento State. But when Campbell uses the term “world class,” he refers to his team, which has eight foreign students—the most of any team at Sacramento State. The team also has the highest grade-point average of any Sacramento State intercollegiate athletic team, and players with national rankings.
Hungarians, Russians, Ukrainians, Swedes, Canadians, Egyptians, and Brazilians—they’ve all heard of the strong women’s tennis program at Sacramento State and made tremendous efforts to join it and their American teammates. The tennis team allows Campbell to combine the passions of his life—tennis and mentoring young athletes. He’s been doing both in a variety of settings nearly all of his life.
“I learned while I was a college student that I could teach tennis for $25 an hour, which was much more than minimum wage at the time. I could have a great time and still earn money, and I loved it,” says Campbell, who began working for a local parks and recreation district while in college, eventually enrolling nearly 400 youngsters in summer tennis lessons. His park program produced four players who received world rankings. One was a NCAA singles champion who attended Stanford, was 19th in the world in the WTA tour and is now an attorney in Sacramento.
While in the MBA program at Sacramento State, Campbell did research that became the basis for founding his first tennis club, Rio Del Oro. Over time he built a lucrative business enterprise, Spare Time Inc., based on his love for tennis. He and his wife Margie now have nearly a dozen clubs in the region.
He was drawn to help Sacramento State during a tumultuous time in 1983, when, for financial reasons, the University dropped tennis. “I felt it was important to re-start a program here,” said Campbell. But in his discussions with University officials it was made clear the program would have to be self-supporting.
So Campbell and Osborne purchased the Sacramento Capitals World Tennis Team with the idea that the profits would go to support the University’s tennis program. It was Osborne’s responsibility to run that operation on a daily basis. It was a success and it paid off for the community–drawing top international players–and for the University with more than $1 million dollars going to the tennis program for scholarships, coaching salaries, travel and other necessities.
When a student fee increase, better budget years and a move to Division I helped re-fund the University’s program and provide scholarships for many of the students, Campbell continued supporting the teams. Then in 1998 he was offered the women’s coaching position. He took it, but continues to donate his coach’s salary to support the team. His support is part of his personal philosophy. He says, “I’ve always felt this is ‘our’ community and we need to make living here… make it as great an experience as possible. This may not be the university you graduated from, but it is a part of our community and it is truly our university.”
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