Tschannen with Sac State officialsAthletics Director Bill Macriss, left, men’s basketball head coach Brian Katz, donor Ernest Tschannen and President Robert S. Nelsen at the event. (Sacramento State/Bob Solorio) More Photos

Sacramento State’s dream of building a 5,000-seat campus Event Center received a big boost Tuesday, Oct. 27, with a $750,000 donation from Sacramento philanthropist Ernest Tschannen.

His gift was announced during the Men’s Basketball Hall-of-Fame Tip-Off Banquet on Tuesday night at the Harper Alumni Center. Tschannen was introduced by President Robert S. Nelsen and men’s head basketball coach Brian Katz.

Tschannen’s contribution benefits “The Power of 1,000 Hornets,” a crowdfunding campaign launched last spring by the Athletics Department and University officials after both the men’s and women’s basketball teams had breakthrough seasons and came close to hosting the Big Sky Tournament. Sac State’s gym, The Nest, seats just 1,012 and is one of the smallest among Division I schools.

“The Power of 1,000 Hornets,” launched in May, is aimed at raising more than $1 million in seed money from alumni and community supporters for the proposed facility.

“We are obviously thrilled,” Katz says of the Tschannen donation. “During the process of getting to know Mr. Tschannen, I realized that he is just a wonderful person. He figures out places where people are in need and tries to fulfill those needs as much as possible. We’re extremely thankful to Mr. Tschannen. His generosity will be remembered forever.”

“There are days and there are people who change the trajectory of so many lives,” Nelsen says. “This day and this man, Ernest, will change the trajectory of a myriad – and I mean thousands and thousands – of lives.”

Tschannen is a native of Switzerland who moved to the United States in the 1950s. He worked as a civil engineer and later found success as a real-estate investor, giving away millions of dollars in charitable contributions. He’s a lifelong cross-country skier, kayaker, hiker, and cyclist. One of his favorite causes is the American River Parkway. Sacramento State is the third institution of higher education to benefit from his generosity.

“My primary goal in life is to give to society what the United States has given to me,” Tschannen says. “The gym at Sacramento State was too small to host a conference championship event for basketball, and ‘The Power of 1,000 Hornets’ initiative inspired me to come forward with a gift.”

Sac State’s proposed Event Center would be used for athletic events, concerts, performing arts, job fairs, Commencement ceremonies, and lectures.

“Sacramento State is truly grateful to Ernest Tschannen for his generosity to this great University,” says Bill Macriss, director of Athletics. “His gift signals a new day in the support of Hornet Athletics. It is our hope that this gracious show of philanthropy will inspire others to follow and will encourage alumni, community members, and fans to support this critical project.”

Learn more about “The Power of 1,000 Hornets” and the proposed Event Center at www.sacstatealumni.com/1000Hornets. – Ryan Bjork and Dixie Reid



In the media:

"Hornets stunned by good fortune," Ailene Voisin column, The Sacramento Bee

"Philanthropist gives to Sac State," KCRA 3

"Big donation to Sac State," Fox 40

"Sac State Event Center donation," CBS 13