The Knox College football field has been named in honor of Vernon Stisser‘62 after the trustee endowed $1.6 million to the football program. Stisser, who passed away in May of this year, had been one of the largest financial supporters of the Prairie Fire Athletic Department during his lifetime.
“For three decades, including the last 16 years on the Board of Trustees, Vern Stisser was one of the most steadfast supporters of Prairie Fire athletics,” President Teresa Amott was quoted by the Sports Information Department during the Homecoming Convocation on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Knox had previously honored longtime coach and athletic director Harley Knosher in 2008 by naming the stadium Knosher Bowl, so the field will now be referred to as Stisser Field at Knosher Bowl. Stisser played under Knosher staring in 1960 before going on to become President and CEO of Griffith Laboratories.
Stisser helped found the Siwah Athletic Club in 1993 and served on the Trustee Initiatives Task Force that helped develop the E&L Andrew Fitness Center in 2004, as well as the renovations to many of the other Knox athletic facilities.
According to Knox Athletic Director Chad Eisele, Stisser was instrumental in helping enhance the experience for Knox athletics, going beyond providing for basic equipment by providing funds for team trips.
Eisele also mentioned that while Stisser was clearly invested in Knox Athletics, he did not feel the need to make his presence known publically.
“He always wanted to know how things were going, how he could help, what we need to be successful. But he wasn’t a face that was always here. He was really a behind the scenes kind of guy,” Eisele said.
A couple of weeks after the college released information regarding budget constraints, Eisele wanted to make it clear to those questioning the allocation of funds that the football team had no prior knowledge of the donation.
“It’s an easy answer [to those who think the money could have gone someplace else]: Stisser’s trust specified that this money was to go to the football program,” Eisele said. “When anyone gives money to the campus they can specify where that money goes. Vern did this without telling anybody; we did not know about it until he passed away.”
Eisele also stated that at this time, plans for specific uses for the yearly income have yet to be made.
“The funds certainly haven’t been earmarked for anything but [the donation will be used to] enhance the football program. Whether that is staffing, facilities or equipment it could change from year-to-year on how the funds will be used,” he said.
*Information from the Knox Athletic Department Website was used in this report.