Brief Historical Statement about ISTAP
By William M. Minter
In the spring of 1998, James A. Shannon, who later became the first President of ISTAP, called a group of us together to discuss the possibility of forming a group to support athletics at Alabama State University.
While two known similar athletics support groups (Montgomery Athletics Boosters Club and the Black and Gold Club) had existed in the past, there were no indications that either of those groups was actively operating in 1998. The group of us met over a period of several weeks and after much discussion decided to organize. We talked about what our objectives should be and what our name should be. Our objectives became apparent early—but deciding on a name for our group took a little more time. Since we didn’t feel we would be on safe grounds to use the name that either of the previous athletics support groups had used, we agreed to use ISTAP as our official name. ISTAP is an acronym for “I Support The Athletics Program” and the athletics program we were referring to was the one at Alabama State University.
Coach Shannon got the idea for our name from some materials he received from Clemson University. Several years ago, Clemson formed an athletics support group called IPTAY (I Pay Thirty Dollars A Year). According to Coach Shannon, IPTAY had over the years made significant contributions to the Clemson University’s Athletics program and in 1996; its contribution to the program was 8 Million dollars. Coach Shannon realized that ISTAP would probably never be able to match the financial accomplishments of IPTAY, but he felt we could, in various ways make significant contributions to the effectiveness of the athletics program at ASU.
We developed a proposed plan of operation which specified that we would operate in accordance with policies and procedures of the NCAA, the SWAC, and ASU and that we wanted the Athletics Director at ASU to be a member of our Executive Committee. We felt the need for the Athletics Director to be on our Executive Committee to make sure that whatever we did would be in compliance with prevailing rules and regulations. We then met with Dr. William Harris, who was President of ASU and with Dr. Curtis Williams, who was the Athletics Director at ASU. They both endorsed our plan of operation. We next met with and received an endorsement from Janet Harris, who then was President of the National Alumni Association. With the endorsement of these three individuals, we then approached representatives of the ASU Foundation and got approval for the Foundation to serve as the fiduciary agency for ISTAP—to handle all money received through memberships and contributions to ISTAP. This final action gave us access to a fiduciary agency that had already earned credibility and would at the same time enable contributors to receive a Tax Advantage from their contributions.
We then finalized a constitution in which we established the following objectives:
ISTAP sponsored several promotional events, developed literature, and published newsletters—all aimed at helping to fulfill those objectives. We met with the local Chapter of the ASU alumni and with the National Alumni Association and received their endorsement of our efforts. We did this to make sure that we all were working in harmony to support the various programs of ASU.
Among those who met with the group during the formative years and who designated themselves as founders were James A. Shannon, the lead founder and first President; Jacquelyn Herring, 1st Recording Secretary; Dr. Alma Freeman Professor of Education at ASU, 1st Corresponding Secretary; William Minter 1st Financial Secretary; David Lee Davis, 1st Chaplain; Dr. C. C. Baker, former President of ASU; Dr. Norman Walton, retired History Professor at ASU; Anthony Dumas; Robert E. James; Henry A. Spears; Willie W. Steele; Percy Thomas; George Thompson; and Jethro Wilson.
Since its founding, ISTAP has raised funds and made them available to every sport at ASU; has supported various projects of the Athletics Department; and among other support efforts has provided buses to all out-of-town football games over the past several years and to several basketball events that ASU was involved with. ISTAP has experienced good growth—from the original 14-founding members, ISTAP’s membership during calendar year 2007 is about 475 in number.
Much of what members of ISTAP have accomplished over the years was done in love for ASU as well as in honor of James A. Shannon.
Coach James Shannon, the man who initiated the idea of ISTAP and who is considered to be the lead founder of the organization was a native of Montgomery. He earned his undergraduate degree from Virginia State University and a Master Degree from ASU. He served as a public school teacher and coach in Montgomery until his retirement. Following this retirement, he served in various positions—including golf instructor at Lagoon Park and Golf coach at ASU. His love for ASU was matched by few and his contributions to ASU were matched by even fewer. He spent most of his time during the last few years of his lifetime to advance the development and operation of ISTAP.
Although James Shannon became incapacitated by a stroke in 1999, he continued to provide leadership and influence in the promotion of the programs of ISTAP. One of his final significant accomplishments was the implementation of the “Meet The Coaches Brunch” with the primary purpose of helping to strengthen the bond between ASU athletics, the alumni, and a broad community. In this brunch ASU Head Coaches gave updates and projections of their sport for the upcoming season. Although James Shannon did much of the work of planning the first brunch, he was not able to attend because at the time of the Brunch, he was confined to Health South Rehabilitation Center recovering from the stroke.
James Shannon recovered sufficiently from the stroke to resume his duties as President of ISTAP. With assistance, he was able to travel on some of the bus trips through the 2000 football season. However, later in that year, he suffered a heart attack that closed out a fruitful life for a man who was loved and respected by many.
We are indebted to James A. Shannon for his commitment and love for ASU—that in addition to his other contributions, led to the formation of ISTAP that has flourished and contributed much to the continued success of ASU’s athletics program.