Honoring a lifetime of Mustang pride

A $250,000 gift has established a new endowed excellence fund to honor the late Paul Layne ’76, Mustang football superfan and beloved SMU alumnus. Established by Layne’s longtime friend Tom Nelson, the Paul Layne 542 Endowed Excellence Fund for Spirit is the largest ever endowed fund to support SMU spirit programs, which encompass Peruna, the Mustang Band and cheer squads. In addition to Nelson’s initial gift, friends and family of Layne have contributed or committed to the fund, which has now reached over $300,000.

Paul Layne '76

“Paul’s school spirit and his love of the game were eclipsed only by his kind nature, his big heart and his love of community,” said Nelson, president of LTN Properties, Inc. “I’m proud to honor my friend in a way that supports the Mustang pride he so embodied and the University that he was such a vital part of.”

Layne was a widely recognized presence at Mustang football games, having attended every game since he was first named a Mustang cheerleader in 1972. In total, he attended over 500 consecutive games. In rain or shine, with chickenpox or across the world, Layne never missed the opportunity to cheer on his team. In recognition of his Mustang pride and dedication, Layne was presented with an honorary letter by the SMU Letterman’s Association in 2009, as well as a Mustang Band beanie from the Diamond M Club in 2018, an honor rarely bestowed on a non-band member.

“This endowment is such a wonderful way to honor Paul’s legacy at SMU,” said Trina Rothwell, realtor at Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate and Layne’s partner in life and business. “His love of SMU football has been an inspiration for so many over the years, and it’s so gratifying to know that his memory will continue to support SMU’s students and spirit organizations for years to come.”