Badger legend Michael Finley endows athletic scholarship

MADISON, Wis. – Michael Finley, a two-time NBA All-Star and a former All-American at Wisconsin, is giving back to the university by establishing an endowed scholarship to benefit minority student-athletes, Finley and the UW Department of Athletics announced Friday.

 “Being a Badger means a lot to me,” Finley said. “The University of Wisconsin helped shape me  and prepare me for a successful career in the NBA and beyond.  Now it’s time to give back and  help other kids realize their potential and benefit from the wonderful education and  experience that UW-Madison provides.”

His scholarship, named the Michael Finley Foundation Scholarship, will be awarded annually  to an African-American student-athlete at the University of Wisconsin. Endowed scholarships  create a lasting legacy as the principal gift is never spent. Rather it is invested with a portion of  the earnings being available for scholarship support each year.

“This is truly an outstanding and very generous commitment,” Wisconsin Director of Athletics  Barry Alvarez said. “While we appreciate the financial support provided by all of our  supporters, it is especially meaningful when one of our own former student-athletes makes an  investment in our program.”

“I hope other former Badgers might also be inspired to give back in support of scholarships,”  Finley added.

Finley played at UW from 1991-95, a time that coincided with a re-birth of Wisconsin men’s  basketball. As a junior, Finley led the Badgers to their first NCAA tournament appearance in  47 years. He averaged at least 20.0 points per game in each of his last three seasons and is one  of just two players in UW history to score more than 2,000 career points. Finley was a two-  time first-team All-Big Ten selection and three-time Associated Press honorable mention All-American.  A first-round draft pick of the Phoenix Suns in 1995, Finley was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie Team in 1996. He earned All-Star selections in 2000 and 2001 as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. That was during a stretch of five-straight seasons where Finley averaged at least 20.0 points per game.

Finley helped the San Antonio Spurs win the 2007 NBA title, starting all 20 playoff games and averaging 11.3 points per game during the championship run. During his 15-year NBA career, Finley played for the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics, making the playoffs 10 times. He finished his NBA career with 17,306 points (15.7 per game) and ranks among the top 20 in NBA history in career 3-pointers made.

Now retired from competitive basketball, Finley focuses his philanthropic efforts on leading the Michael Finley Foundation ( The not-for-profit organization was founded in 2003 for the sole purpose of supporting 501(c)(3) organizations with the common goal of supporting children and their families to reach their fullest potential through education, entrepreneurial mentorship, and other programs that emphasize improving the quality of life.



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