Frost's $50,000 gift to track program will fuel resurgenceJune 1, 2007
Take a look at the trophy cases inside the Charleston Southern University Field House and you might be surprised by which sport dominates the space. The CSU track and field program shines among its fellow teams.
Football has had great recent success, winning a conference title. Men’s basketball has won both regular season and tournament championships, and made a trip to March Madness. Golf and tennis both earned conference championships and open invitational crowns. Three programs have won Big South titles since 2000, signaling recent excellence.
While no Big South track championship banners hang in the Field House, the institution formerly known as Baptist College of Charleston was especially contentious for a school in its infancy in the 1960s and continued that success through the late 80s. Under CSU legends Howard Bagwell and Jim Settle, the Baptist College track program was much better than a school its size should have fielded.
Trophies and plaques from all over the Southeast, including a few state meet championships, decorate the shelves. In the years prior to Baptist College chartering the Big South Conference, the Bucs had the best track program in South Carolina, as evidenced by the “State Meet Champions” trophies. The number of Charleston Southern Athletic Hall of Fame members from that era speaks to the quality of the athletes brought here to run. One of those Hall of Famers—Dr. Michael Frost ‘69—continues to add to the legacy of the track program through a different sort of contribution.
Frost, chairman of the Cleveland Capital Holdings & Petroleum World, contributed $50,000 to the track and field program for which he once participated.
Dr. Jairy C. Hunter, Jr., President of Charleston Southern University, noted, "This gift marks the second major donation by Frost, the first coming in 2001 in the form of naming rights to CSU’s track—the Bagwell-Settle Track—in honor of his coaches. In addition to the financial connection between Frost and CSU, the University awarded Frost an honorary doctorate in 1997, and the athletic department’s Christian Athlete Award—given during the annual awards banquet—is named after Frost."
“Mike Frost continues to provide great leadership in a number of ways,” Charleston Southern athletic director Hank Small commented. “He’s a tremendous example of an alumnus who has had great success as an athlete and has gone on to have great success in his career. We appreciate how he continues to give back to the school with the Christian Athlete Award, his spearheading of the Bagwell-Settle Track renovation, and now with this most recent gift. He has created a legacy and example for other alums to follow in supporting CSU athletics.”
What prompted the timing of Frost’s latest gift? Frost sees a lot that reminds him of Coach Settle in current Charleston Southern head men’s track coach Tim Langford. Langford has won two Big South Coach of the Year awards in the past 16 months, for the indoor and outdoor seasons.
As with most individual’s who win Coach of the Year honors, Langford has recruited and developed some of the top athletes in the conference. Antonio Gantt was the top point-earner in the 2007 indoor championships, and Michael Rhue was named the most outstanding male track athlete in the outdoor championship. Alonzo Spurley is a three-time individual champion at conference championships. The Bucs have the best relay team in both 100 and 400 meters in the Big South, and five athletes from Langford’s stable—Rhue, Spurley, Tim Myzsak, Levi Brooks, and A.J. Scott—represented the school in the NCAA Regional in Gainesville, Fla.
Success also comes with a price tag. Athletes talk about “the price they pay” in effort, sweat, and pain, but this is a real, fiscal, fiduciary price tag. This generous donation will go toward capital needs, to purchase long-term items, such as new hurdles, for the track. Equipment deteriorates over time, and new technologies are developed that allow athletes to become faster and stronger. CSU will now be able to replace equipment, both aged and outdated, because of funds that would ordinarily not be available within the regular budget.
“We’re thankful for Mike’s commitment to our program,” Langford said. “The end result of this gift is that we’ll be able to attract more top-quality athletes. When we’re able to better our current equipment and facilities, and able to travel to better meets, kids get a better quality experience. They get to use the best, and run against the best, in turn attracting a better athlete. Supporters like Mike will help us get to the level where CSU track used to be.”
To see Charleston Southern return to the glory days of track that it experienced as Baptist College in the first two decades of athletics is what Frost desires most. With the ensemble of current student-athletes and the quality of potential recruits that his gift might draw to the University, Mike Frost may well be paving the way for those young men and women to one day join him in the CSU Athletic Hall of Fame.
(Above photo shows Mike Frost, right, with members of the Josh Williams family. Williams was posthumously awarded the Michael Frost Christian Athlete Award at the 2007 athletic awards banquet after his untimely passing in January. Photo courtesy Blake Freeland.)