Fundraising for the planned memorial to Jasper Howard at Rentschler Field is now complete, and former UConn head coach Randy Edsall is largely to thank. The Maryland football coach was reportedly the lead donor in the effort, making a contribution that helped the organizers reach their goal, which was reportedly between $25,000 and $30,000.
With the goal now met, work on the statue is expected to go ahead as planned, and the memorial will be dedicated at halftime of the team's homecoming game against UCF on Nov. 1.
From the Hartford Courant:
The lead gift for the memorial came from Edsall, Howard's coach with the Huskies and now the coach at Maryland. Donations also came from former student-athletes and fans, the school said.
"I want to thank everyone in the UConn family who made this memorial to the life of Jasper a reality," athletic director Warde Manuel said. "I especially want to recognize our friends Dan and Lisa Lowry, who came up with the concept for the memorial and worked tirelessly to raise the funds that will make it possible. In addition, we are very grateful to Randy Edsall and his family for their generosity towards this project."
It's been nearly five years since Howard was killed on Oct. 18, 2009, just a few hours after he played one of the best games of his career in the Huskies' 38-25 homecoming victory over Louisville. Howard was stabbed to death outside the Student Union after a fight broke out involving several non-students and a few teammates, and John Lomax III was later convicted of first degree manslaughter for his role in Howard's death and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
While Edsall was heavily criticized for his abrupt departure from UConn after the 2011 Fiesta Bowl, one thing that nobody can deny is how well he handled the immediate aftermath of Howard's death. He stepped up as a leader in a situation that no coach could have ever prepared for, and now he deserves a lot of credit for helping make sure Howard's legacy lives on even though he's since moved on to another team.
Most students at UConn today likely never got to see Howard play, nor did Howard's own daughter, Ja'Miya Tia Howard, who is now four years old and wasn't born until after her father was killed. But thanks to this memorial, there will now be a permanent reminder of Howard and his legacy for all to see, and that is a great thing indeed.