UA National Alumni Association Receives Record $8M Gift From Non-Alumnus

UA National Alumni Association Receives Record $8M Gift From Non-Alumnus

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama’s National Alumni Association has received an $8 million gift from the estate of Bill Decas to enhance four previously created in-state scholarships and create a fifth endowed scholarship for out-of-state students.

His gift is the largest single gift the NAA has ever received.

Decas, an attorney in Massachusetts, practiced law with his brother George at Decas, Murray & Decas and co-owned Decas Farms, a nearly century-old family cranberry business.

Decas, who died in June 2023, never attended The University of Alabama but was an active supporter of UA. He was captivated by the Crimson Tide football team during the 1960s and Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and would watch their games on TV. Decas would develop a deeper appreciation for the University and form numerous friendships at the Capstone.  

Impactful Connections

One such friendship, with previous National Alumni Association Director Pat Whetstone, led to the creation of Decas’ existing four in-state Alumni Crimson Scholarships, the NAA’s most prestigious scholarship. Recipients receive yearly tuition along with a $300 annual book grant, a $3,500 stipend and an additional, one-time $2,000 study-abroad and research stipend.

“The relationship between Pat Whetstone and Bill Decas stands as a fantastic example of the power of relationships,” said NAA Executive Director Jimmy Warren. “Their story reminds us that meaningful friendships and a commitment to giving back can spark transformation far beyond what individuals can achieve alone.” 

Before meeting in 1998, Decas attended UA football games alone and donated unused tickets to the NAA for prospective students. Decas met Whetstone and then-president of the NAA Bob Shaw on a bus trip to the Alabama-LSU game, where he was invited to dinner and to join them at the game.

Decas and Whetstone’s friendship grew, as did Decas’ visits to campus. This led to his first gift — establishing the Crimson Scholarship through the NAA. Over the years, he strengthened his support, continuing to create more scholarship opportunities for students and becoming a member of the University’s president’s cabinet.

Whetstone said non-alumni developing the affinity Decas had for UA was uncommon, and he is honored to have been a part of one of the most unique philanthropic connections at UA.

“Trust and friendship were factors in Bill supporting UA,” Whetsone said. “And when he got to meet the scholarship recipients, I think that really attracted him to growing the scholarships even more.”

Lasting Legacies

Bill Decas posing for photo around scholarship recipients

The Decas scholarships have funded 14 students and over $400,000 in tuition assistance. His bequest gift has now fully funded the four original in-state scholarships, which can now be awarded to more than one student every year.

Decas’ remarkable generosity will empower countless students in their education and will advance the mission of The University of Alabama for generations to come. 

The University of Alabama National Alumni Association is a self-governed, nonprofit membership-based organization that serves The University of Alabama and its many alumni, students, parents, friends and fans.

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.


Alex House, UA Strategic Communications,