Stony Brook University and its athletics programs will benefit from a $2.5 million gift in the form of a 1:1 matching challenge — designated to strengthen Stony Brook Baseball and Softball, cornerstones of the university’s athletics department. The announcement was made in a press release on March 27.

The same family also provided an additional $500,000 in support for the Stony Brook basketball program and their individual athletes’ and programmatic needs, including academic incentive awards for student-athletes, team travel and meal costs, and recruiting.

The gift inspired Stony Brook star and former Major League Baseball pitcher Joe Nathan ’97, the first player from Stony Brook to reach the major leagues and one of the most successful closers in MLB history, to make a lead gift to aid in the effort to revitalize Stony Brook’s baseball and softball complex. In making this gift, Nathan is renewing his support of the facility; his 2008 contribution led to the initial construction of Joe Nathan Field.

“This is an exciting moment for Stony Brook Baseball and Softball. When I first learned of this incredible matching gift, I was moved by this family’s generosity and passion for the program that has meant so much to me,” says Nathan. “Their gift has the potential to transform the future of Joe Nathan Field and University Field, and I am so thankful for their investment in our student-athletes.”

“With that in mind, it is an honor to make a lead gift to the project and support the vision of a state-of-the-art facility for Stony Brook Baseball and Softball. My family and I are thrilled to be the first, of what we hope are many, donors to take advantage of this $2.5 million matching fund and help make a lasting impact on Stony Brook Baseball and Softball,” he says.

Stony Brook Athletics will now set out to raise the entire $2.5 million matched amount, in order to generate a total investment of $5 million into revitalizing the baseball and softball complex. Additionally, as the Stony Brook community prepares for its upcoming Giving Day on Wednesday, March 29, Stony Brook Athletics will utilize $50,000 of the challenge funds as a Giving Day matching opportunity, allowing members of the community to make gifts of any size and be matched dollar-for-dollar.

“I am beyond grateful for the generosity and trust that has been bestowed upon our program. It has been 11 years since Stony Brook made history by reaching the College World Series, and these transformational gifts provide an opportunity to elevate our baseball and softball complex to a standard that our student-athletes deserve,” says Shawn Heilbron, director of athletics.

“This revitalization project is about more than just beautifying our campus and updating our facilities; it will help us recruit the best and brightest student-athletes,” he says. “At a time when national interest in college baseball and softball has never been higher, our goal is to compete on the national stage.”

There is no denying the significant impact that leadership gifts, like this one, play in laying the foundation for the university’s continued growth and progress. With Giving Day 2023 around the corner, matching gifts, like Nathan’s, underscore how the collective impact of Stony Brook’s growing community of alumni, students, faculty and friends is advancing the university’s priorities and helping it reach its potential.

“This anonymous gift has already done more than address the immediate needs of our university community,” says Justin Fincher, vice president for advancement and executive director of the Stony Brook Foundation. “It’s created a ripple effect by inspiring others to think about how they can play a role in Stony Brook’s future.”

The matching gift stemmed from a total $5.5 million contribution from the same anonymous donor family. The $5.5 million included support to the Stony Brook basketball program noted above as well as additional support for the Stony Brook Children’s Hospital Pediatric Emergency Department Expansion Fund.

Feeling inspired? To learn more about how you can #HoldDoorsOpen and support the next generation of Seawolves this Giving Day, visit