(Editor’s Note: This article was written by Edouard Boulat ’11)
On the day of the Patriot League men’s basketball championship game back in 1996, Adonal Foyle ’98, the Raiders’ star player at the time, missed part of the team’s pre-game warm-up.
The excuse he gave his coach? “Sorry I missed the shoot-around, coach. The conversation in class … it was just so intense.”
As nearly 100 alumni, parents, and friends came to learn during Colgate’s 10th CEO Conversations event, held Nov. 1 at the W New York Hotel in New York City, this was not atypical behavior for Foyle.
“I wanted to go to a place where I was going to be a student first and an athlete second. Just the opportunity to be in class talking and arguing with my teachers and classmates was incredible,” the retired NBA player said.
After being introduced by Ken Schanzer ’66, president of NBC Sports, Foyle shared his thoughts about Colgate and memories of the incredible journey that got him there.
That journey took him from the tropical island of Canouan in the Caribbean, to snowy Hamilton, N.Y., and finally to a long career in the NBA.
Foyle, adopted and brought to the United States by Colgate professors Joan and Jay Mandle, remains to this day one of the university’s most decorated athletes.
As a Raider, he averaged 20.4 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 5.66 blocked shots per game, and received honors such as Patriot League Rookie of the Year, Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and Second Team All-America.
During his junior year, he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors with the eighth pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, ending his college career as Colgate’s all-time leading rebounder and second all-time scorer, and as the then-NCAA all-time leader in blocked shots.
After 10 seasons with the Warriors, during which he became the team’s all-time leading shot-blocker, Foyle joined the Orlando Magic, serving as a key role player and mentor to some of the game’s brightest young stars.
After a successful 13-year career, Foyle retired from the NBA in August. Off the court, Foyle’s track record is just as impressive, and it quickly became the focus of his talk at the CEO Conversations event.
Not long after graduating magna cum laude with a history major, Foyle founded Democracy Matters, a nonprofit and nonpartisan student political organization he described as dedicated to the promotion of clean elections and to “allowing young people to harness their voice.”
In 2005, Foyle launched the Kerosene Lamp Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes education and health awareness while providing free basketball clinics in the Caribbean.
Throughout the event, Foyle repeatedly credited his success both on and off the court to his time at Colgate, referencing various teachers and classes as the forces that pushed him to challenge himself and seek ways to improve the world around him.
“Colgate has shaped me in every way,” he said.
Foyle also spoke about his current position as director of player development with the Orlando Magic, where he is working to address what he believes is a serious lack of preparation for “life after the game” amongst NBA players.
“I thought he was simply incredible,” Rob Sobelman ’08 said after the event. “He’s an inspiration. The fact that he’s achieved so much coming from such limited means makes me feel very proud of the fact that he graduated from the same university I did.”
As Foyle pointed out during his talk, his day-to-day activities definitely give the word “retirement” a whole new meaning.
“I’m still trying to figure out what exactly that word means,” Foyle said jokingly.