Florida Tech Athletic Director Bill Jurgens Discusses Chopper Dropper, Illustrious Career At FIT

By  //  March 8, 2017


ABOVE VIDEO: As the athletic director of Florida Tech, Melbourne native Bill Jurgens has guided the Panther sports program from its infancy, and was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame. 

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Today, Alan Zlotorzynski of Space Coast Daily and SCD Sports Talk sits down with one of the longest tenured Athletic Directors in the country, Bill Jurgens of Florida Tech. 

Among the many things Bill Jurgens will discuss with Alan today is Sporting Affair XXV, which is coming up later this month.

Sporting Affair is Florida Techs biggest fund raiser of the year. The event helps the sports programs by generating funding for athletic scholarships.

One of the key events during the day long golf themed outing at Suntree Country Club features arguably the most unique event taking place in Brevard County during the year, The Chopper Dropper.

The event involves dropping 2,000 numbered golf balls from a helicopter onto a putting green, with the ball closest to the pin winning the holder of that number a grand prize of $50,000.

Including the $50,000 awarded to the winner of the golf ball drop, 16 others will have an opportunity to take home a solid pay day as well. The second closest ball to the hole will receive $10,000 while 15 others will win $1,000.

While Chopper Dropper is perhaps the most anticipated event of the day, it is but one event in annual Sporting Affair XXV.

Sporting Affair XXV also features a golf tournament, food and drink, a silent auction and much more.

ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Tech University’s annual Sporting Affair featured a Chopper Dropper contest where 2,000 numbered golf balls were dropped from a helicopter. Closest to the hole was the winner.

There is a one million dollar hole in one challenge that golfers can qualify for during the Sporting Affair Golf Tournament.

If a golfer qualifies to participate in the $1 Million Hole In One Shootout, they will have the opportunity to shoot in front of hundreds of spectators to win one million dollars.

Like the Chopper Dropper, prizes will also be awarded for those that don’t win the grand prize.

Runner-up prizes are awarded to the three golfers whose shots come closest to the pin.  Past winners have took home a set of irons, a new driver and a new putter.

While it’s time to revise the saying that “close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, the money raised from this event is vital to Florida Tech’s athletic program.

The money raised is used to benefit student athlete scholarship programs for the Panthers 23 varsity sports and over 550 student-athletes.

In the last decade alone, the Panthers have started competing in men’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s track & field, football and added women’s lacrosse in the fall of 2014.

Jurgens is the one common denominator in the Panthers success on the field, court, track and pool.

For over 47 years, the 2013 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame inductee has been synonymous with Florida Tech Athletics. As the school’s athletics director since 1976, he has helped build Florida Tech into a strong NCAA Division II program.

The Panthers have achieved great success since he was named athletics director in 1976.

In his position, he has been part of four national team championships and one NCAA Individual National Championship, 27 Sunshine State Conference Championships and five SSC Individual Championships.

Since 2010, the women’s soccer team won its first Sunshine State Conference Championship and made its first NCAA Division II Final Four appearance.

Men’s basketball won its first outright SSC Championship in 2011-12 and advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time since the 1989-90 season.

In 2012-13, men’s cross country appeared in its first NCAA Division II National Championship race and men’s and women’s golf qualified for the NCAA Division II Championships for the first time in the same season in school history.

Also, the Panthers’ men’s varsity four crew won the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta Championship, its first since 1995.

The cherry on top occurred last November when the football program advanced to the NCAA D2 playoffs in just it’s fourth season.

Jurgens started as the first head crew coach at Florida Tech in 1969. The Panthers won 17 National Championships under his tutelage.

In 1980, Jurgens served as the head coach for the U.S. National Men’s Lightweight Eight that finished fourth in the World Championships in Hazewinkel, Belgium.

Jurgens is a graduate of Jacksonville University where he rowed all four years in the Varsity Eight for the Dolphins and served as their captain his senior year.

He went on to row for the 1974 Vesper Boat Club Eight in the Grand Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta in England. Later that year, he was a member of the Pair with Coxswain that won the U.S. Rowing Trials for the 1974 National Rowing Team.

The team went on to compete in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Aside from the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame, Jurgens is a member of the Florida Tech Sports Hall of Fame, the Jacksonville University Athletic Hall of Fame and he earned the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame’s Visionary Award in May 2013.

In 2016, Jurgens received the Jack Kelly Award from USRowing which recognizes an individual who represents the ideals that legendary Philadelphia rower, Jack Kelly lived by and has accomplished superior achievements in rowing or serves as an inspiration to American rowers.

Tickets are available now for the Sporting Affair XXV for a suggested donation of $100 each.

There is also plenty to do before and after those golf balls drop.

ABOVE VIDEO: From 2015, former Florida Tech athletes, football player Andrew Adair and women’s basketball player Kayk Wilson talk about their experiences at FIT and the opportunities their athletic scholarship has given them.

A cocktail buffet reception sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi of Melbourne will feature food from Florida Tech athletic partners The Broken Barrel Tavern, Matt’s Casbah, and Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

There will be a silent auction featuring unique sports memorabilia and much more, and a 50/50 cash raffle will be held that last year sent the winner home with over $1,900.

Space Coast Daily Sports Talk will also be broadcasting live on Space Coast Daily TV during the event.

The shows host, Alan Zlotorzynski, will be joined by Space Coast Sports Sports Hall of Famers and the Friday Night Locker Room’s Steve Wilson and Orville Susong.

The guys will have interviews with great guests and local celebrities as the event takes place.

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And of course there is the golf tournament at the beautiful, and normally members-only, Suntree Country Club. Qualifying golfers will also have a shot at $1 million in the hole in one shootout.

CLICK HERE for more information and to purchase Chopper Dropper tickets.


ABOVE VIDEO: As the athletic director of Florida Tech, Melbourne native Bill Jurgens has guided the Panther sports program from its infancy, and was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.