Cougar Club celebrates 50 years of supporting BYU athletics

(Photo by BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah -- Since its inception 50 years ago, thousands of Cougar Club Members nationwide have helped fuel the success of BYU student athletes. At halftime of the BYU vs. Gonzaga men’s basketball game, the athletic department honored several individuals who were instrumental in the founding, growth and success of the BYU Cougar Club, including Ray Beckham, Ron Hyde, Jean Parkinson Lee and Alan Parkinson.

A 1951 BYU graduate, Dr. Roger Parkinson was a Salt Lake City physician and an ardent Cougar fan who was instrumental in the conceptualization and approval of a national Cougar Club.  When the booster organization was officially created on May 16, 1964, Dr. Parkinson was elected as the first Cougar Club president.

The following year Parkinson passed away in a tragic accident--a plane crash that claimed his life and those of seven other charter members of the Cougar Club traveling to the Western Athletic Conference Championship football game. He is represented at the BYU vs. Gonzaga game by his wife, Jean, and their son Alan, the current dean of BYU’s College of Engineering and Technology.

Ron Hyde led and nurtured the Cougar Club during his 36 years of dedicated service at BYU in roles that included Advancement Vice President and Alumni Association Executive Director, a position in which his duties included serving on the original Cougar Club Board of Directors and providing early leadership and support to the fledgling organization during its first decade of existence.

An innovator and gifted administrator, Ray Beckham was BYU’s first sports information director.  In addition to founding Aspen Grove Family Camp and raising funds for LaVell Edwards Stadium, the Smith Fieldhouse and the Marriott Center, Ray championed the university’s initial approval for a national Cougar Club and helped galvanize several other seminal athletic support groups into a single, focused, fund-raising entity.

Since those early days, Cougar Club has grown to thousands of members whose combined donations last year totaled more than $13 million, support that is critical to meeting the growing needs of the university’s 630 student athletes who currently represent BYU in 21 different sports. 

For more information about the Cougar Club please visit the Cougar Club website.