Santa comes early to Washington State

It might be a stretch to say Washington State's hiring of Mike Leach is yielding fruit before he's even completed a recruiting class or played a game, but then again it might not.

Is it a coincidence that the Cougars just received $3 million from a booster -- Greg Rankich ’94 of Kirkland, Wash. -- the largest gift to the program in school history? Me thinks no.

And, of course, Leach isn't the only guy behind this. AD Bill Moos seems to be on a nice run, too.

The sound effect that works here: "Boom!"

The press release:

Washington State University Director of Athletics Bill Moos announced Thursday the largest gift in the history of Cougar Athletics to support The Cougar Football Project, which was approved by WSU’s Board of Regents Nov. 18. WSU alumnus Greg Rankich ’94 of Kirkland, Wash., has committed $3 million to support the expansion of Martin Stadium on WSU’s Pullman campus.

“This is a remarkable day for all of us in Cougar Athletics,” said Moos. “Greg’s generous commitment to support this project is noteworthy as it is the largest single commitment in this program’s long history. It is also significant because of what it means for our student-athletes and personnel as we transform our football program, and our entire athletics department, so we can be competitive with the best collegiate athletic programs in the nation.”

Rankich, 39, is the President and CEO of Xtreme Consulting Group, a business and IT consulting firm based in Kirkland, Wash.

“I believe in the direction Bill and his staff has taken for Cougar Athletics, and I am excited to be able to make this investment in The Cougar Football Project,” said Rankich, who is the youngest individual to be recognized as a Laureate at WSU (cumulative support of $1 million or more) in 2005. “As a proud Coug, this project means a lot to me personally. I hope all Cougars out there will join me in helping to make this and other facility projects in Athletics a reality.”

“Greg has been a generous supporter and visionary leader for WSU and Cougar Athletics from the day he graduated”, said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “His belief in the educational experience across WSU is evident in his support for a variety of areas in addition to Athletics, including the colleges of Business, Engineering & Architecture, Liberal Arts, and Nursing, to name a few. Greg continues to amaze me on a daily basis for the love that he has for his alma mater, as is clearly evidenced by his transformational philanthropic support.”

To honor Greg’s commitment to The Cougar Football Project, WSU Athletics will name the club room located within the new stadium expansion the Rankich Club Room. “It is the least we can do for someone who has done so much to improve this facility and to provide annual scholarship support for our student-athletes.” said Moos.

Construction for the South Side Seat expansion began after the season’s final home game on Nov. 21, and is expected to be completed in time for the opening home game of the 2012 football season when the Cougars play Eastern Washington University on Sept. 8. For the most up to date information on The Cougar Football Project, go to http://thecougarfootballproject.org/.