Bronco athletics was their gateway to endowing a scholarship for student-athletes.

“Somewhere down the line, you’re going to have an opportunity to give back.”

After Falling For Boise State Football, They Funded a Scholarship Through Their Estate Plan

Husband and wife Carey Simons and Debbie Oliver are diehard Bronco Football fans — especially Carey, who missed his first game in six seasons to catch his high school reunion. Over the years, they have gotten to know many of the players, coaches and staff.

“Just meeting these guys, coaches, administrators, even the kids, we developed an appreciation for the culture and what they do. Sure, they want to win (we want to win all the football games) but there’s also the academics,” Carey said. 

Boise State’s dedication to student-athlete performance on the field of competition and in the classroom impressed Carey and Debbie so much that they are endowing the Carey Simons and Debbie Oliver Football Scholarship, to be funded through their family trust, the gift of a home in Boise, Idaho. Endowments are sources of perpetual scholarship support that increase student-athlete access to an education at Boise State University and catalyze academic success. They are also a pillar of Unbridled: The Campaign for Boise State, which seeks to elevate the university through investments in core areas, including endowed scholarships.

Carey and Debbie started visiting a friend’s cabin in McCall, Idaho, in the early 2000s, and their passion for Boise State University football began with the Broncos’ seminal win at the Fiesta Bowl in 2007. By 2015, both of them had moved from their home in Southern California to Boise, Idaho, where they bought a home in the North End neighborhood where they now live. Within a few years, they’d become well-acquainted with the team through the Coaches Club and the Lyle Smith Society, giving societies supporting athletics at Boise State after falling for its winning program in a smaller sports market.

Though athletics figured heavily in their interest in Bronco football, it was scholarships and access to higher education that eventually inspired them to endow a scholarship. 

“We talked about the academics side of this whole equation: players’ graduation rates, those types of things. That was really important,” said Boise State Athletics Director of Development Jacob Thompson, who befriended the couple and worked closely with them on their gift. 

Carey participated in track and field during his college years, helping him “understand the demands of training hard, preparing, and being disciplined that is required while a student;” and Debbie never attended college. Though she was successful in her career, she said higher education would have given her options she didn’t have, and made her path easier. The way Boise State put the student first among its student-athletes through tutoring and attention to academics struck Debbie, so much so that writing Boise State into their will was her idea. 

“We wanted to give something back,” she said. “If we did this, then someone may get an opportunity that I didn’t have. They’d get a chance to go and better themselves and do something I couldn’t do.”