Supporting Jumbo Athletics
If you’ve swung through Cousens Gym recently, you’ve probably noticed a new name alongside the Jumbos logo on the floor of the basketball area: Tye Court. The name recognizes one of the biggest supporters of Tufts’ athletic program, Ted Tye, A79, A06P, A13P.
The chair of the Athletics Board of Advisors and a trustee who heads the Trustee Buildings and Grounds Committee, Tye is deeply committed to bolstering sports on the Hill. “It comes down to contributing to excellence in the student experience,” he said. “There are so many things we do as a university that create that excellence, and athletics touches a large number of our students.”
Tufts won the Learfield Director’s Cup as the outstanding Division III program in the nation last year, but it is also what the university’s student athletes achieve off the playing field—and after Tufts—that motivates Tye’s commitment.
“I love seeing how successful Tufts’ athletes are not only in competition but also in the classroom,” he explained. “The GPA among student athletes is a source of pride for Tufts, and I’ve been able to stay connected to a bunch of them as they’ve gone out into their careers. They’re a part of the Tufts community that is super-successful, and that’s really gratifying.”
Under Tye’s leadership and with strong support of other donors, the university has prioritized making improvements to sports facilities. The list of recent achievements in that area is long. In 2015, Tufts overhauled Spicer Field, setting the stage for Jumbos to host NCAA events for the women’s softball team. In the same year, the university also renovated the Bello Field turf playing surface.
The following year, the Daniel Ounjian Field (for field hockey) and the resurfaced Gantcher Center track and field area opened. Two years ago marked the completion of a new squash facility. Last year brought upgrades to Ellis Oval, including installation of new synthetic turf, lights, a video board, and runways for the track and field teams. Most recently, a new indoor training center for the golf team opened in Cousens Gymnasium.
Among the current top priorities, according to Tye, is baseball with the establishment of the new Gittleman Park, in honor of the longtime provost and professor. Currently under construction, Gittleman Park was also supported in part by Tye’s philanthropy.
Also a priority: basketball at Cousens Gym. “Cousens goes back many, many decades into the last century,” Tye explained. The facility opened in 1932 and remained one of New England’s premier physical education centers until the mid-1960s. In 2009, significant structural repairs brought the facility into the 21st century—and brought its basketball court into line with NCAA regulations. Still, additional changes are needed to improve the venue, and new renovations will include a makeover of both the lobby and the basketball coaches’ offices.
As a decades-long fan and entrepreneur who has owned minor league baseball and basketball teams, Tye fully champions prioritizing both sports. They hold some nostalgia for him, too. "When I was a student at Tufts, I hung around Cousens Gym and played lots of pick-up basketball,” he recalled. “My daughter Sam [A13] was a Jumbo basketball player. It’s a place for which I have great affection. I just have a huge affinity for basketball and baseball—and also for Tufts.”
President Anthony P. Monaco recognizes that affinity. “Ted Tye is a wonderful Tufts citizen and an incredibly passionate Jumbo,” he said. “As trustee, chair of the Athletics Board of Advisors, donor, mentor, and supporter of all things Tufts, Ted has made, and continues to make, an immense impact on improving the experience for our scholar-athletes through his unwavering support of Tufts Athletics. We are incredibly grateful to him not only for his tremendous generosity but also for the positive impact that he has made on me and on other members of the Tufts community through his decades-long association with the institution.”
The newly named Tye Court at Cousens Gym, then, is a fitting testament to Tye’s longstanding devotion to sports on the Hill. “Over the past dozen years or so, I’ve seen such incredible growth in Tufts Athletics,” he said. “I love being a part of it.”