Benefactor Tom Benson and baseball star Matt Seale are the Class of 2013 for the University of the Incarnate Word's Athletic Hall of Fame, the university announced Thursday.
The induction of Benson and Seale will come at halftime of the Cardinals' Sept. 28 home football game. Their election by the UIW hall of fame selection committee brings to 20 the number of athletes, coaches and administrators named since 2005 when the hall was initiated.
A longtime supporter of Incarnate Word and education as a whole, Tom Benson and his wife Gayle were among the moving influences behind initiation of the UIW football program. Ground was broken in April 2007 for the Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium and field house on campus. The football Cardinals played their first game at Benson Stadium in August 2009 and this fall will mark the fifth season of action for UIW.
In addition to the financial investment in Cardinals athletics the Benson family endowed the Tom Benson Chair of Banking and Finance at UIW in 1985.
That same year Benson became the principal owner of the New Orleans Saints and in 2010 the club won its first world championship at Super Bowl XLIV. The Saints have established such a winning tradition that since 2006 the Mercedes-Benz Superdome has been sold out.
Additionally the Benson organization now owns the New Orleans Pelicans, a purchase made official in June 2012.
The Benson family's dedication to Greater New Orleans and to the Gulf South region is legendary particularly since 2005 when the area suffered through Hurricane Katrina. Since that time the Saints' organization annually has infused more than $15 million into the region in the form of charitable contributions. Because of his efforts here Benson received the Volunteers of America Good Samaritan Award in Philanthropy.
Benson's memberships in halls of fame are impressive. In addition to the UIW Athletic Hall of Fame, previously he has been inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame (2012), the Greater New Orleans chapter of the Achievement Business Hall of Fame (2013), the San Antonio Business Hall of Fame (2011), and the Texas Business Hall of Fame (2007).
In addition to his support of Incarnate Word Benson is an ardent backer of his own alma mater Loyola University in New Orleans, as well as San Antonio's Central Catholic High School, New Orleans' Brother Martin High School, and Tulane University.
In 2012 the Bensons received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award from Pope Benedict XVI. That same year he was awarded an Oblate Doctor of Human Letters by the Catholic Church.