Saying he wants to give Wisconsin students the same opportunities he had, Milwaukee money manager Albert "Ab" Nicholas said Thursday he has created a new foundation with a $50 million endowment that will provide scholarships for selected high school basketball players to attend University of Wisconsin System schools.
Ab Nicholas Scholarship Foundation will offer as many as 60 scholarships in its first year, and ultimately as many as 250 a year, Nicholas said. The scholarships will be renewable for a student's entire education at a four-year or two-year school, he added.
"I just believe in helping these kids get an education," Nicholas said. "Basketball and UW-Madison made it possible for me to accomplish my goals, make a very good living and enjoy what I do."
To qualify for the scholarships, students must participate in a boys or girls high school basketball program during their senior year. They would not necessarily be expected to play basketball after high school. Students will be chosen based on need, academic achievement and character, Nicholas said.
The annual scholarships will amount to $10,000 for four-year programs, and $5,000 for two-year programs. Nicholas' daughter, Lynn, will be executive director of the foundation.
Nicholas received an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned an undergraduate degree in economics and an MBA in finance and investments. As a guard on the university's basketball team in the 1950s, he was twice named to the All-Big 10 team and once named to Look Magazine's All-American team. He was the highest-scoring guard in the school's history when he graduated, and was inducted into Wisconsin's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010.
Rather than play professional basketball, Nicholas went on to found Nicholas Company Inc. The firm currently has $2.7 billion of assets under management. An investment of $10,000 in the firm's flagship Nicholas Fund on Sept. 30, 1969, would have been worth $781,641 on Dec. 31, according to Morningstar Inc. The same investment in the Standard & Poor's 500 index would have been worth $524,140, Morningstar's data shows. Students can apply for scholarships between Feb. 1 and April 30. The foundation website will go live Feb. 1.
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