Thursday, October 29, 2009

Green As In Money

Last May, Jim McIngvale, a.k.a. Mattress Mac, spoke at our WCS graduation, less than twenty-four hours after a huge fire in one of his Gallery Furniture stores. It was a big story in Houston and we were the recipient of some great publicity due to the timing of the fire and our commencement. You should have seen the television trucks and reporters! On top of that, Mac delivered a phenomenal address to our seniors! Below is another story about the famed entrepreneur, dated December 3, 2006.

Like most large cities, Houston is populated with famous people. Singer Beyonce' Knowles is a Houstonian as is former heavyweight champ George Foreman. Another George, the first President Bush, and First Lady Laura Bush are residents. Roger Clemens who has won numerous Cy Young awards as the best pitcher in baseball and basketball star Yao Ming, arguably the world's best known athlete, both call Houston home. If you reside in Houston, there is one more name you might add to that list: Jim McIngvale. Known simply as Mattress Mac to most, McIngvale is the owner of Gallery Furniture. You can hardly turn on your radio or television without his trademark sign off line, "Gallery Furniture saves you money today!" To many, his ads are annoying and corny but he has made millions and millions of dollars. His wealth has allowed him another opportunity: Mattress Mac is the best known philanthropist in Houston, raising millions of dollars to aid victims of the 2004 tsunami in southeast Asia and last year's Hurricane Katrina. McIngvale is also a mover-and-shaker on the Houston sports scene. Beside supporting local professional franchises, he has single-handedly turned Houston into a major tennis center. It's no accident that he has a love for athletics. In the early seventies, McIngvale was a letterman for the Mean Green football team at North Texas State University in Denton. Not unexpectedly, his benevolence has also been directed toward his alma mater in support of the football program. Therein lies the rub.

Two years ago, Mattress Mac donated a million dollars to NTSU with the money earmarked for a practice facility, consequently named in his honor. In mid-November of this year, Jim McIngvale made public a very unique demand. He insisted that NTSU re-name the facility after its football coach....who it had just fired. His rationale was based on the fact that Coach Darrell Dickey was terminated just three weeks after he suffered a heart attack, a move which McIngvale classified as 'heartless.' He also believes the university has done too little to give the football team a chance to be successful and threatened to make the beneficiary of the gift the band program. Perhaps not wanting to risk losing one of its most influential backers, NTSU will do as Mattress Mac has 'suggested' and replace the name McIngvale on the facility with Dickey. The university did say it was in keeping with NTSU policy to let donors decide what buildings will be called but this has to be a first. There are two people I would love to hear weigh in on the subject: deposed Coach Darrell Dickey and the head of the band department. I doubt there is a forthcoming press release.

Sometimes we are put in awkward positions. Once when confronting Jesus, the religious leaders demanded to know the source of his authority. The Savior said he would answer their question if they would respond to his. The question Jesus posed was this: was the baptism of John from men or from heaven? A quick conference huddle disclosed to the leaders they could not answer either way. If they replied from God, they had no excuse for not believing. If they said it came from men, the crowd might riot because they esteemed John the Baptist to be a prophet. They simply replied they did not know, which was a lie. They did not believe the baptism had heavenly origins. They thought it had its roots in the man himself but to say so would mean offending an emotional crowd. The spiritual elite took the easy way out. It is my read that NTSU did likewise in the case of Mattress Mac and the donation. The North Texas athletic director, quite awkwardly I presume, praised the ousted Coach Dickey for the championships his teams had won during his tenure in Denton. We all know that money talks and wields tremendous influence in our society. Most of us don't like the way some wealthy people, at times, use money as a weapon but I like Jim McIngvale/Mattress Mac and what he did. I think he brought to light some of the hypocrisy of athletics and fund raising and NTSU, like many other universities, had to grit their teeth and honor a man they had just discarded. I would imagine there will be other monetary gifts from Mattress Mac to North Texas State University. Coach Dickey is receiving a nice gift himself. The buyout package for the remainder of his contract from the school is a cool $560,000. Not a bad month for a fired coach: half a million and a building dedicated in your honor. Only in America!
Applicable quote of the day:
"A celebrity is one who is known to many persons he is glad he doesn't know."
Lord Byron
God bless,
Luke 18:1
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Anonymous said...

Hey Coach.... I can't believe he donated that much money!!! said...

McIngvale is also a Dallas Bishop Lynch graduate (but before the school became a TAPPS member).

Tell Coach Glenn I said "Hello!"

And Waverly is now 5'5 1/2" and has made straight A's her first two six (6) weeks of public school.