When she graduated from high school and was looking for a college destination, Kelli Brooks followed her friends.
“They were going to (Colorado State), so I wanted to go where my friends were going,” Brooks said.
Despite attending and earning a degree from CSU, Brooks has never wavered in her love for the Colorado Buffaloes and last weekend made a significant move towards helping future Buffs.
Brooks, who lives in Southern California and is a partner with global consulting firm KPMG, finalized a seven-figure endowment that is the largest in CU football history. The previous largest endowment for the program was for $4 million.
While Brooks’ estate commitment will come to fruition in the future, it will go towards football scholarships.
“I’ve loved CU football since I was a little kid,” said Brooks, who was born in Glenwood Springs. “I named my first dog after Ralphie. I’ve just really loved the program. There’s a few things I’m passionate about and one of them is CU football and one of them is education. To me, I thought, what better way to leave a legacy than to be able to do it with a football program that I’ve loved my entire life and making an impact on the players that are going to come through the program.
“I love CU football, but I’m also super passionate about education. That’s huge. You have to make sure these players are getting an education. I feel like we owe it to them to give them a really good education.”
For several years, Brooks has been a donor to CU football, but her estate commitment went to another level. It was her relationship with and trust in Brandon Leimbach, the director of development for the Buff Club, that led Brooks to make this commitment. Although Leimbach recently left CU to become the athletic director at Fort Lewis College, he was a key factor in Brooks making her commitment.
“With my endowment, I am hoping to help those who come after me,” she said. “If my legacy can have a positive impact on the student athletes on the CU football team, I will be happy.”
Ben Broussard, who oversees the Buff Club as CU’s assistant vice chancellor and senior associate athletic director, said most of the time in college athletics, an endowment of this size has an estate component. He added that the Buffs couldn’t be more pleased with Brooks’ generosity.
“What Kelli just did is remarkable,” Broussard said. “It shows her dedication to this program, it shows how big of a fan she is. She is as passionate of a fan as exists on this planet and we’re just fortunate that she’s also wildly successful in business and cares enough about this place to do something like that.
“The analogy I use for gifts like this is she’s literally planting an orchard of oak trees for people down the road to sit under the shade in.”
As for Brooks’ passion for the Buffs, that started in her youth and has grown over the years. Despite not living in Colorado, she attends several CU games each year.
“Even when I was in school, when we’d play CU in football, I rooted for CU,” she said. “I loved CU football. I just never thought about not rooting for CU football. I love the Buffs. When I walk into the stadium, it’s just my happy place.”
With a degree from CSU, however, she has to have a soft spot in her heart for the Rams, right?
“No,” she said. “Not at all. Obviously I am thankful for my degree from CSU but my football allegiance is 1,000,000% with the Buffs.”