Fairmont State alumni provide support for football student-athletes

Two Fairmont State alumni will continue to support a scholarship for football players over the next five years.

Jim Ashton, a general partner for NewSpring Capital, a Philadelphia-based private equity firm, and his wife, Debbie (Turney), have committed to continuing the Jim & Debbie Ashton Football Scholarship. The annual impact scholarship supports freshmen football players from Western Pennsylvania who are majoring in business, computer science, engineering, entrepreneurship or information systems. 

“The support of Jim and Debbie Ashton will have immeasurable impact,” Mirta M. Martin, president of Fairmont State University, said. “Our student athletes work hard, and the Jim & Debbie Ashton Football Scholarship rewards them for them for their diligence and passion, both on the field and in the classroom. This gift is also a reminder of the kind of people that make up our Falcon Family – alumni like the Ashtons who not only remember their precious years here on our cozy hilltop campus, but who also feel a responsibility to give back and lift up another generation of Falcons.

“Debbie and I both enjoyed our time at Fairmont State University and have always looked for ways to give back,” Jim said.  “I was once a recipient of a football scholarship and know how important it was for me at the time.” 

Ashton said the couple strongly encourages giving to support Fairmont State students and believe it is especially important to give back when times are tough.

“There have been many successful graduates of Fairmont State,” Jim said. “Many live in different parts of the country now, but their journey started at the beautiful campus on the hill.” 

Jim and Debbie both graduated in 1980 with business degrees, which he said was key to obtaining their first jobs out of college. 

“We were able to draw upon lessons learned in the classroom and apply them to the real world,” Jim said. 

Debbie grew up in Fairmont, not far from campus. Jim grew up in Brownsville, a coal mining town in Western Pennsylvania.

“I thought it was a beautiful campus and was excited to continue my athletic career with the football team,” Jim said. “After a few seasons, our class won the conference championship in my senior year.” 

Coach Dave Ritchie was an early mentor for Jim both on and off the field. In the fall of 2019, Jim was able to visit with Ritchie during a 40th reunion of the 1979 conference championship team. 

“Other than meeting each other, we both made lifelong friends that we met at Fairmont State University,” Jim said. 

“We are so honored that Jim and Debbie have decided to continue their support of our Fairmont State football program and our exceptional student athletes,” said Fairmont State Foundation President Julie Cryser.