Football wife contests will

October 24, 1997

THE WEALTHY widow of a multi-millionaire American football team owner wants to withdraw his $10 million contribution to their alma mater, the University of Alabama, even though the university already has renamed its business school after him, writes Jon Marcus.

In a bitterly contested court fight over his will, the widow Joy Culverhouse, claims the trustees of her unfaithful husband's estate had no authority to make good his pledge of $10 million for the university. Alabama officials were too slow to name the business school after her late husband, she argues, then had the audacity to ask her for money.

"She wants to wash her hands of the University of Alabama completely," Mrs Culverhouse's lawyer, Kathy Gibbs, said. "Everything they did was a slap in the face toward her."

Which is not to say that Mrs Culverhouse is mourning her late husband, Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse, who left a fortune of $381 million. Her court battle included allegations of adultery and trickery during their 51-year marriage.

"I'd like to pull him out of the grave and shoot him with every bullet I could get," Mrs Culverhouse said in court.

The story began when the future Mrs Culverhouse, an amateur golfing champion, met her husband at the university. She remained a devoted wife through the years that he went from tax lawyer to sports mogul.

Mr Culverhouse gave $3.4 million to the university while he was alive, and left it another $10 million in his will one month before his death in 1994. The gift was made on the condition that the business school be named for him.

The trustees of his estate made payments of about $1.5 million before Mrs Culverhouse learned of the infidelity and sued to get new trustees. Only after Mrs Culverhouse had sued the university to withdraw her husband's gift did it finally rename the business school the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration, hurriedly plastering the title on to everything from campus signs to coffee mugs.

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