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Hofstra gets $1.5-million infusion

Hempstead: An empty James M. Shuart Stadium at

Hempstead: An empty James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University. (Dec. 3, 2009) Credit: Mario Gonzalez

Jim Metzger, an All-American lacrosse player for Hofstra in 1980, Tuesday pledged $1.5 million to support Hofstra athletics, the largest gift for sports in the university's history.

"I feel strongly that I benefited greatly from my education at Hofstra. It gave me a foundation both personally and professionally," said Metzger, chairman, CEO and founder of The Whitmore Group, a leading insurance brokerage and financial services firm in Garden City.

Metzger, Class of 1983, knows all too well how difficult it is for his alma mater to induce the top homegrown players to stay on Long Island. "Look at my nephews," he said.

His nephews are Rob Pannell, a senior at Cornell, and James Pannell, a senior at Smithtown West who has committed to Virginia. "I recognize that Hofstra has to overcome being on Long Island -- a hotbed of lacrosse -- and watching the best and brightest go elsewhere," Metzger said.

The gift is not earmarked exclusively for lacrosse, but that is Metzger's admitted passion. He is friends with Hofstra athletic director Jack Hayes and lacrosse coach Seth Tierney. "Their job is challenging because some of the best kids on Long Island want to go away from home for their college experience," Metzger said. "How do we overcome that? One way is to have the best facilities. We have one of the best lacrosse facilities in the country at Hofstra. This pledge includes a capital improvement fund and an endowment. It's not only for lacrosse, but this will impact the lacrosse program."

Tierney, whose 2012 team was recently ranked No. 11 in the Inside Lacrosse preseason poll, called Metzger's gift, "simply incredible. It will help our program take another step forward that would not be possible without his help."

Metzger has previously contributed funds to renovate the men's and women's lacrosse locker rooms and create the Traditions Project -- an on-campus history of the lacrosse and football programs. "Jim's generosity to Hofstra athletics in recent years has helped to elevate the lacrosse programs to an elite level," Hayes said in a statement. "This most recent gift will provide long-term support for the program and fund improvements that will directly impact all of our student athletes."

Metzger said his pledge "means a lot to the university and the university means a lot to me. I'm fortunate that I'm able to help and it's something I really wanted to do."

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