Hagerty family donates $2.5 million to football program

The head coach position will be referred to as the Hagerty family head Football coach.


Photo by Alex Liscio.

Michael Gennaro, Social Media Manager

On Aug. 27, football head coach Willie Taggart got an unusual gift for his 45th birthday- a new name for his position and millions of dollars to support his football program.

Michael and Michelle Hagerty donated $2.5 million to FAU Athletics to name the head football coach position in perpetuity. The position will now be referred to as the Hagerty Family Head Football Coach.

The Hagertys are a wealthy couple who live in Boca Raton. Michelle’s company was sold to Beam. Inc, the makers of the popular Jim Beam whiskey, in 2012 for $605 million.

“The Hagertys’ generous gift will lead to numerous opportunities to positively impact the student-athlete experience for current and future Owls,” said Andy Seeley, senior associate athletics director for external relations.

According to an FAU News Desk article, the gift will directly support the football program and the Chasing Greatness Program, providing a curriculum that prepares student athletes for a career after their playing days are done. Seeley said that the gift will help the football team hire a nutritionist, improve its recruiting efforts, and hire a player development position for the staff.

FAU joins universities like Northwestern, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Notre Dame, and others that have legacy names for the head coaching position. Seeley said the athletic department is open to naming other coaching positions as well in the future.

The Hagertys said they were inspired by Willie Taggart to give the gift, calling the coach a “committed leader of young adults.”

“We can’t thank Michelle and Michael Hagerty enough for their generous support of the football program. I’m honored to hold the title of Hagerty Family Head Football Coach. We are also very grateful for their belief in the vision of the Chasing Greatness Program. We’re committed to making sure every one of our student athletes has the best possible experience during their time at FAU, and this program is vitally important to our efforts off the field,” Taggart said.

University President John Kelly said that the gift will help football players succeed both on the field and in the classroom and that the gift will help FAU continue to build a national reputation athletically and academically. 

Taggart is going into his second year as head coach of the Owls. They open the season on the road at Gainesville against the University of Florida on Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.


Michael Gennaro is a staff writer and social media manager for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or message him on Twitter or Instagram @mycoolgennaro.