Through Penn Wrestling Gift, Harris Highlights Important Experience
As a grappler at the University of Pennsylvania, Josh Harris’ success came in spurts, he admitted.
Life in the professional world, of course, has treated the 1986 Wharton School of Business graduate much differently.
On Wednesday, Harris - Managing Partner of the Philadelphia 76ers and co-founder of Apollo Global Management, LLC - was back on Penn’s campus, inside the famed Palestra, where he used to take the mat for the Red and Blue.
Via the Harris Family Charitable Foundation, Harris and his wife Marjorie presented Penn Wrestling with a $1 million gift that will ensure the tradition-rich program competes at the highest of levels for years to come.
“There are a lot of things that are important to me,” said Harris, the member of a three-generation Penn family. “First of all, there’s the University of Pennsylvania. Then, to be able to support the team you wrestled for, it’s really our pleasure.”
Half of the Harris family’s grant will be used to establish the Joshua J. Harris Wrestling Assistant Coach Endowment. The remaining money will be put towards important operational costs, such as team travel, recruiting, nutrition, equipment, salaries, and facility upgrades.
Current Penn head coach Roger Reina is one of Harris’ former teammates. Harris joked that when they were in school together, Reina was the Quakers’ best wrestler, who used to “beat up on me all the time.”
The two reconnected in recent years, and the relationship ultimately helped pave the way for Harris’ financial contribution. Reina described the donation as “very significant,” one with positive ripple effects that will touch student-athletes, their families, recruits, and alumni.
“It’s a leadership gift,” Reina said. “It’s a pivotal time in terms of Penn Wrestling, and the development of our program. It’s really a profound gift.”
Harris said returning to the Palestra Wednesday morning conjured up fond memories, and smells, too. His experience wrestling for Penn left a lasting impression.
“Wrestling is no joke,” said Harris, who competed at 118 pounds. “If you’re not ready, you get physically dominated, and that teaches you a lesson. It allowed me to learn about grit and discipline, and I’ve applied that to my life. I owe a lot of where I am to the sport, and what it’s taught me.”
“Josh has been recognized in the Hall of Outstanding Americans in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame,” Reina said. “He’s obviously accomplished great things, and provides that really inspiring example to others.”
Through the Harris Family Charitable Foundation, Harris was happy to lend his support to another cause he considered personally meaningful.
“We use our foundation all over, but particularly in Philadelphia, and cities we care about. I was afforded some advantages as a middle class kid, and I want to make sure everyone has those same opportunities I did.”