Bogie Busters

Although Frericks may have been counting on the love of basketball by locals to overlook the radicals on campus and continue to support his drive for an arena, he knew affection would not fund the building’s construction. Following the NIT victory Frericks worked on another proposal in which the Austin E. Knowlton Co. of Columbus would build the Arena in a lease-to-buy arrangement. However, by mid 1968 he had faint hope it would pan-out. The reality was that by the summer of 1968, as one of Frericks friends in the business community recalled to him in a letter two years later, “I remember so vividly one day in the summer of ’68 when you […] and I lunched at a time when the [Arena] project was about to dissolve into nothing[.]” “At that time,” the letter continued, “you still had a faint glimmer of hope from the State of Ohio.” [106]

That “glimmer of hope” came from Frericks’ efforts to tap into connections within the Republican Party in the state, which he had gained access through a newly created annual charity golfing event known as “Bogie Busters.” The seeds for the Bogie Buster event were planted in 1960 when local businessman Robert Cy Laughter, “a staunch Republican, met many celebrities while campaigning for Nixon in his unsuccessful presidential bid against John F. Kennedy.” Through his efforts Laughter developed “association with many celebrities and nationally known business, civic and political leaders. He played golf with entertainers like Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Perry Como and Bob Hope.” The Bogie Busters event evolved from this connection by accident. In the summer of 1967 “Laughter arranged for famed Oklahoma football coach Bud Wilkinson to speak in Dayton […] and invited a dozen people, including Ara Parseghian, Paul Brown, Don Shula, Otto Graham, Eddie Arcaro, Tom Frericks and Don Donoher, to join Wilkinson for some golf at Dayton Country Club.” [107] Political attendees included Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush. [108]

Attending the event placed Frericks in the rarefied company of regional and national power brokers. Indeed, even some of the illegal activities related to the Watergate scandal took place at Bogey Busters. [109] Years later when Laughter was seeking a political appointment in the Reagan administration, Speaker Thomas O’Neill told Special Assistant to the President Mr. Michael Dever, who did not know Laughter, “I am sure you must know of Cy Laughter who runs the annual Bogie Busters Golf Tournament—he’s from Dayton, Ohio and is supposedly a good friend of the President’s. He’s a dyed in the wool Republican and a generous contributor.” [110] Playing in the tournament Frericks developed important connections, which were used to smooth the path towards getting the arena built. As Laughter’s obituary states, he “was proud of Bogie Busters, and he believed that bringing so many power brokers to Dayton helped the community.” In one example Laughter “felt it planted the seed for the construction of Miami Valley Research Park.” [111]


(Left) This picture of President Nixon and Cy Laughter shaking hands was given to Frericks by the Bogie Buster sponsor. “Tom Frericks – To another Winner, and a great friend. Cy” Source: Frericks Family Private Collection.

Governor Rhodes and the OEFC

The Bogie Buster events placed Frericks in contact with Governor Rhodes, who was the driving force behind State Bill 453. Rhodes had been a long time supporter of funding for state education institutions, state parks, and highway development. [112] The Ohio Education Facilities Commission that came from SB 453 was formed “to help private schools stay alive” against better funded public institutions of higher learning. [113] While the details remain murky, it is evident Frericks was in contact with key figures of the OEFC long before it officially began operating.

The first public announcement that UD was in negotiations with OEFC was in August of 1968. According to the news release, Frericks and other university authorities had “met with the Ohio Higher Educational Facility Commission on August 21 to discuss the possibility of the loan under the new law, which authorizes the Commission to examine and approve applications for the issuance of bonds to support construction on private college campuses.” This was the “faint hope” to which Frericks’ friend said he clung to in late August. Luckily the suspense did not last long. On October 18th the Universities Public Relations Department issued a news bulletin announcing that the school had received word from Columbus that the Ohio Higher Education Commission approved a bond issue of $4 million dollars (approximately $30.6 million in inflation adjusted 2018 dollars) to aid UD in the construction of its “sorely-needed athletic facility.” UD was only “the second such approval since Kenyon College received a loan in July.” Making the announcement President Roesch said, “We are elated over the good news we have just received from Columbus today granting approval of our application. […] It is the culmination of a year and a half of involved negotiations.” Construction, he continued, “can now get underway in the next few weeks[.]”

According to the Journal Herald in an article titled “Larger Fieldhouse Could Avoid Student Unrest, UD Group Says,” President Roesch said “it is becoming increasingly difficult to satisfy a student body of more than 10,000 with 900 seats” and the “new fieldhouse” might solve the problem.” On the page in which this article was pasted in the Frericks Arena scrapbook was a photo of UD student’s occupation of St. Mary’s Hall in January. [114]

(Above) “Larger Fieldhouse Could Avoid Student Unrest, UD Group Says” Source: Journal Herald, October 18, 1968, Freicks Scrapbook, University of Dayton Archives and Special Collections, University of Dayton. (Left) “Student Occupation of St. Mary’s” Source: January 1967, Freicks Scrapbook, University of Dayton Archives and Special Collections, University of Dayton..

Frericks added that the “increased seating capacity” of the new arena “guarantees bigger gross gates which in turn opens new scheduling possibilities.” [115] Years later, Frericks admitted to Collett what the historical records strongly suggest, that it was “Governor Rhodes pushed that through for us.” [116]