New ISU logo

New ISU logo

Idaho State Athletics is excited to announce the launch of the Champions Fund, established to provide support for the department of athletics in areas of greatest need that advance the mission of leading the Big Sky Conference academically, athletically, and in the culture and experience available for Bengal student-athletes. The Champions Fund may be used at the discretion of the athletic director to help the Bengals compete for and win championships.

It is intended to provide student-athletes and coaches with more of the essential tools they need. Donations will be used to assist with the expenses of summer school, better team travel, upgrades to the strength and conditioning center, equipment for the athletic training room, more home games and tournaments, and many other initiatives intended to elevate the entire breadth of Bengal athletics.

Over the next 60 days, the newly created Champions Fund is getting a significant boost from Idaho State alumni Joseph and Judy Saratore, who have committed to match up to $50,000 in gifts to the Fund between now and January 31, 2020.

Joseph Saratore only attended ISU for one year before returning to Michigan to build C&S Machine, his successful company which manufactures and engineers precision steel parts for the aerospace and medical industries. But Joe and his wife Judy never forgot the kindness extended to them while Joe attended ISU in the 1950s and played a year of football for the legendary coach, Italo “Babe” Caccia.

The couple has followed Bengal athletics for years, however, and has recently become very encouraged about the direction of the department. During a visit to campus in November, they were impressed by the changes they have seen in the past year.

Joe wanted to support the department in advancing its vision, saying, “We’ve been following the Bengals for years. What we see now is a real commitment to excellence and a culture that values academics and athletic performance. We love the enthusiasm, trust the leadership, and we want to support the Bengal vision and encourage others to do the same. I’d love nothing more than for this effort to cost me the full $50,000.”

Idaho State Athletic Director Pauline Thiros says the Saratores’ support, and the support of those who take advantage of the opportunity to have their gift matched, will be transformational for Bengal athletics.

“Our department is working hard to do more, to provide more to our coaches and student-athletes to support their success,” Thiros said. “In the past, decisions have always been made based on budget limitations, not upon what was best for our students, or the best strategies for success. The Champions Fund, and this unbelievable level of support, will allow us to say ‘yes’ to more of the things coaches and teams truly need. It will begin to level the playing field and allow us to provide more of the opportunities we know top programs are providing.

“I met Joe and Judy nearly 20 years when they visited campus,” Thiros continued. “They never forgot the kindnesses extended to Joe during his short time at ISU, and have returned to visit and generously support the university every couple of years. I value their genuine interest and friendship, and their deep belief that we can become a championship program. I knew that we could count on their support, but I am humbled beyond measure by this extraordinary commitment.”

To support the Champions Fund and the Saratores’ $50,000 match, visit or contact Joel Moersch, associate athletic director for development, at (208) 282-4503 or