Harvard announces hoops endowment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The transformation of Harvard’s men’s basketball program from annual also-ran for most of its history to perennial powerhouse under Tommy Amaker has continued this season, as the Crimson entered Saturday 18-5 overall and 8-1 in Ivy League play.

And at halftime of Harvard's game against Princeton on Saturday the school announced another step -- the endowment of Amaker’s position by Harvard alum and Staples co-founder Thomas G. Stemberg.

Stemberg, who co-founded Staples in 1986 and served as the office supply giant’s CEO and chairman, graduated from Harvard in 1971 and earned an MBA at Harvard Business School in 1973. He serves as an honorary co-chair of the booster group Friends of Harvard Basketball, which played a key part in bringing Amaker to Cambridge eight seasons ago.

“I am thrilled to announce that Tom Stemberg and his family have endowed our men’s basketball head coaching position,” Harvard athletic director Bob Scalise said in a statement. “Tom has been a friend of Harvard Athletics for more than 40 years and his continued support has helped to champion in an era of academic and athletic success for many of our programs.

“Under his leadership, the Friends of Harvard Basketball has been instrumental in the transformation of our men’s basketball program under head coach Tommy Amaker, and this gift will help us continue to pursue excellence in the years ahead.”

The terms of the endowment were not disclosed.

“Tom has been an incredible friend to Harvard Athletics for many years. This gift is a testament to his commitment to the continued success of our basketball program and the young men in it,” Amaker said in a statement. “Tom’s leadership throughout the years has been vital to the program that we have built, and I could not be more thrilled and proud to be the Stemberg Family Head Coach for Men’s Basketball.”

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.