Tiger Club board member David Nevins was in Kingston, R.I., when he watched Towson win its first Colonial Athletic Association football championship last fall.
As the Tigers were battling Rhode Island on the field, Nevins and Tigers athletic director Mike Waddell were talking about the reward: championship rings.
One problem: Waddell had not put the approximately $50,000 necessary for the rings into his budget.
"He thought maybe that he may be criticized for not putting the money in the budget," Nevins said. "I said something like 'Are you kidding me? If you had put it in the budget, people would have thought you were crazy to even dream that Towson might be the CAA champions given the football team's performance in recent years.'"
Towson finished 9-3 last season after winning a total of three games the previous two seasons combined.
Nevins along with fellow Tiger Club board member Mike Gill joined Waddell and devised a plan to pay for the rings.
They planned to raise as much money as possible at the home playoff game against Lehigh by going to members of the Tiger Club and other fans asking for donations. They were amazed by the result of their efforts.
"Mike [Waddell] and I were frankly shocked at how easy it was [to raise the money]," Nevins said. "Literally in an hour and a half, we had raised the $50,000 for all the rings."
The hardware will be distributed Friday at the Valley Mansion in Hunt Valley, as fans join Towson's players, coaches and staff to commemorate last season's CAA championship at the Gridiron Gala presented by the Towson athletic department and the Tiger Club.
"I've seen the rings," coach Rob Ambrose said. "The rings are almost as nice as any BCS bowl ring I've ever seen. I have a conference championship ring from the Big East; this ring is immensely nicer."
Senior All-America safety Jordan Dangerfield is one of the players who played an instrumental role in last year's success. After making a team-leading 93 tackles, forcing two fumbles and intercepting two passes in 2011, Dangerfield is excited to get his ring.
"I can't wait to get it on my finger," Dangerfield said. "[Winning the conference championship] was something I always wanted to do when I decided to play in the CAA. It was a sigh of relief because it's something I wanted to do — turn the program around and get a ring — and that's what we did. The next step is a national championship."
The Gridiron Gala will begin with a social hour at 6 p.m. with dinner and awards beginning at 7.
"Our No. 1 push is to make the student-athlete experience as polished as possible, as absolutely pristine as possible from the education standpoint all the way to the athletics standpoint," Waddell said. "One of the keys to our program moving forward is the maximizing of our private support. [Towson athletics has] strong donors that make sure that we are able to provide that for our kids. … The one thing I can say about April 20 is that it will be a great night. We'll take one last look back, but after that we really don't need to think about it again. That's last year's team. That is not this year's team."
Clarification: Championship rings would not be paid for using department funds, Waddell said. Money for what he called "extras" would always be drawn from the Tiger Club, a private auxiliary that raises money to support Towson athletics.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun