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Former 'Canes

Oct. 23, 2000

Edgerrin JamesJim OttoMichael BrenanMark CooperThomas Hilbish

Edgerrin James

Former University of Miami football player Edgerrin James announced on April 7, 2000, the donation of $250,000 to the University of Miami athletic department to be used for upgrading student-athlete facilities. The donation is part of a fund-raising campaign to improve and expand the academic, weight training, locker room and sports medicine areas of the Hecht Athletic Center.

“The opportunity to be part of the University of Miami family has meant a great deal to me,” said James. “My experiences, both academically and athletically, put me in a position to make this type of gift. For this I am very appreciative. I hope this gift begins to show my appreciation to the University. I want to make sure the student-athletes that follow me will have the same opportunities I received.”

“I am very thankful to Edgerrin for the generosity he has shown to our program,” commented head coach Butch Davis. “Knowing his love for our program, this gift does not come as a surprise. Edgerrin was always a leader for our team and his leadership always came from setting an example. He has set a tremendous example with this gift.”

The quarter of a million-dollar gift represents the largest contribution ever from a former Hurricane football player to the University of Miami athletic department. In recognition of the gift, the University will name the main team meeting room in James’ honor. The naming will serve as a daily reminder to student-athletes of the impact James had on the program.

“I hope that others will follow my lead in giving back to the program,” added James. “I am extremely proud to be a Miami Hurricane, and I know many other former players are as well. As I move on in life I hope to be able to continue to support the football program. I want to help ensure that it remains one of the best in the country.”

The university hopes to begin the renovation and expansion project early this summer.

If you would like more information about making a contribution to the Football Facilities Project, please call the Hurricane Club at 1-800-GO-CANES, option #4 or305-284-6699.

Jim Otto

University of Miami athletic teams have produced more than their fair share of prospects destined for professional stardom. Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testaverde, and Edgerrin James are among the most widely recognizable names in pro sports. Jim Otto is one of those shining stars, and together with Ted Hendricks, stands in immortality as a memberof Pro Football’s Hall of Fame.

When Jim graduated from the University of Miami in 1960, he was a 205-pound center/middle linebacker. He was considered too small for professional football and was not drafted or signed by any NFL franchise. In 1960, an AFL team from Minneapolis chose Jim as their 25th pick. Although many believed the American Football League was destined for failure, Jim jumped at the opportunity to continue his football career.

Despite the poor practice and locker-room facilities, sub-standard traveling accommodations, meager fan acceptance, and comparatively low pay regularly associated with the newly founded AFL, Jim Otto bulked up to 260 pounds and became one of the most dominant offensive lineman of all time. For 13 straight years, he was an All-Pro, and played in 210 straight regular season games as a starter. In one of his seasons, Jim’s coaches judged him to have made only four errors out of 650 total plays. In 1980, his first year of eligibility, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as an Oakland Raider.

Currently, Otto resides in northern California with his wife Sally. He and his wife are the proud parents of two and have seven grandchildren to keep them young. Since his retirement from professional football, Jim has spent time studying horticulture and agronomy at UC Davis and uses his knowledge to manage orchards. Redefining the term “Renaissance Man”, Jim also works in the restaurant business and manages a llama ranch.

His perseverance and hard work have made him one of UM’s most treasured alumni. Jim Otto, you have made the Hurricanes proud! Thank you for serving as a great example of what one can accomplish with opportunity and determination.

‘Canes Spotlight – Michael Brenan Oct. 99

In the spring of 1958, Michael Brenan was involved in a hit and run collision. Luckily, a police report wasn’t necessary as the damage occurred on the baseball field. Michael hit and ran over the poor Florida Gator catcher, and scored the winning run for the Hurricane Baseball team. Memories like this put a smile on Michael’s face, and are a constant reminder of the benefits of having been a student-athlete.

Michael credits the University of Miami with providing him the qualities and skills to allow him to be what and where he is today. Where Michael is, is right here in Coral Gables. These days, he is making his impact on the stock market. Using his UM degree in International Business, Finance and Economics, Michael has spent time working with, or managing various financial firms from New York to Atlanta. He currently works as a retirement and estate-planning specialist with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Although Michael never made it the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame, he was recently inducted into the Who’s Who Professional Hall of Fame.

As he looks toward the future, he sees himself giving back to the community, through his enjoyment of teaching public seminars. Michael also has a big place in his heart for Hurricane baseball and providing for up and coming players. Recently, the Hurricane Baseball program has been named partial beneficiary of his estate, promising years of scholarship aid to well-deserving student-athletes on the baseball team.

Gators and ‘Noles beware – Michael Brenan is a ‘Cane! The Hurricane Club and the University thank him for his outstanding support.

Where Are They Now


Thinking of relocating to Colorado? Call Mark Cooper! This Former Cane played football and graduated from UM 1983 with a BA in Communications-Public Relations. As a second round draft pick in 1983, Mark played offensive tackle for the Denver Broncos(including the team that went to Super Bowl XXI) from 1983 to 1987. Mark then moved to Tampa Bay to play for the Buccaneers from 1987 to 1989.

These days, you can find Mark Cooper in the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado. He is the Managing Broker for the Englewood, Colorado Caldwell Banker Van Scaack & Co. office. Mark has received numerous awards as a top producing Caldwell Banker Associate and holds, among others, the coveted CRS(certified residential specialist) designation. For more information about this Former Cane, visit his website at

Mark, his wife Nancy and son Michael live in Aurora, Colorado.


One might not guess it to look at him. His distinguished career in music might lead one to believe that his talents end there. But Thomas Hilbish, who attended UM on a music scholarship from 1939-1941, was also the captain of the Men’s basketball team. In 1941, star forward “Tiny” Tommy Hilbish was known for his leadership, agility and field goal accuracy.

Now Thomas Hilbish isn’t so tiny. After graduating from UM, Thomas was named as the Princeton Public Schools Supervisor of Music. Under his guidance, the Princeton Choir became the first high school ensemble to receive sponsorship by the U.S. State Department for tours of Europe (1962 and 1964).

In 1965, Hilbish was named as the Chairman of the Conducting Department for the University of Michigan. He later became the Director of Choirs and again led his Chamber Choir to international acclaim for it’s performance excellence.

In 1981, Hilbish received a Grammy nomination for his recording of Menotti’s The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Manticore making his the only university ensemble to be nominated. The following year, Hilbish participated in the 5th Annual International Choral Festival in Philadelphia where he conducted the joint chorus of 500 singers from 11 countries and 5 continents.

Thomas Hilbish retired from the University of Michigan in 1987. His list of achievements span the globe and have afforded him, among various honors and awards, a respected reputation for his ability to inspire.

Thomas and his wife, Barbara, continue to make Ann Arbor their home.