For Drew McDonald, Northern Kentucky University’s Department of Athletics is a family tradition. His mother, Christie, played Norse basketball; his father, Jeff, played tennis; and his uncle, Bill Aker, was NKU’s celebrated baseball coach between 1971-2000.
But despite McDonald’s deep family ties with the university, his accomplishments are all his own. The 6’7” Cold Spring, Kentucky, native became the all-time leading scorer, with 2,066 career points, and rebounder, with 1,081 boards, in NKU Basketball history at the end of his illustrious 4-year career. He’s been recognized with honors such as the Lou Henson (mid-major) All-America, NABC All-District 12 First, All-Horizon League First Team member and the Horizon League Men’s Basketball Player of the Year. And who can forget the three-pointer that made way for the Norse’s 2019 Horizon League championship?
“One of the reasons I went to NKU was to help build the basketball program for the future,” says McDonald. “For that all to come together in my years here is unbelievable.”
The senior marketing major is a fierce competitor in class as well, and he is grateful for the opportunities NKU has given him, including the athletics scholarship that enabled him to pursue success in the classroom and on the court. “When people give to athletics and the Basketball Excellence Fund, we know they believe in us,” he says. “We understand that we’re playing for more than just the team—we’re playing for our community. Having Northern Kentucky University printed on our uniforms is more than just words.”
One of those people giving is NKU alumnus and fan Tom Munninghoff, for whom Norse Basketball is also something of a family affair. “Over the last six years it’s become a nice family event,” he says. “I got to witness the building momentum of NKU basketball.”
Munninghoff is impressed with the leadership Ken Bothof, director of athletics, and coach John Brannen have brought to the team, but it’s the student-athletes who truly inspire him. “I’m impressed by how well mannered, humble and hard-working they are,” he says. “We’ve caught the imagination of fans, and our recruiting potential keeps growing.” He’s even helped former student-athletes secure jobs in the community, keeping talent in the region—a priority for Munninghoff.
Giving to NKU men’s basketball allows Munninghoff to be a part of moments like McDonald’s epic three-point shot, as well as the team’s winning seasons, to the community. “Seeing little kids at the games with their parents is awesome,” he says. “They look up to these student-athletes, and our players are great role models. It’s a great investment in our community and our young people.”