Supporting Women's Basketball and Student Athletes at USF

By Mary McInerney, Office of Development Communications Posted Wed, 05/16/2018 - 10:00

When Mina Jenner was young, girls didn’t play basketball at her school. That didn’t stop her from heading to the backyard and throwing her brother’s basketball at the hoop, though.

Decades later, when her husband, Jim, asked her if she’d like to start going to USF women’s basketball games, she jumped at the chance. A true fan was born.

“Jim was quiet, a spectator. I was the one was that jumped up and down and yelled,” she recalled. Neither had a connection to USF at the time.

Their love of women’s basketball inspired Jim to make a $1.25 million bequest gift to support the USF women’s basketball team and provide scholarships for student athletes on the team. Jim Jenner, a brilliant trial lawyer and renowned mountain climber, passed away last year.

Being Part of a Team

Jim Jenner was committed to supporting women on and off the court, Mina said.

“That’s one of the reasons why Jim wanted to give to basketball,” she said. “He used to keep an eye out for women who played sports and recruited them for the public defender’s office. He thought they were often some of the best attorneys he had, because of their team spirit and stick-to-itiveness.”

Her husband, she said, was also deeply committed to Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in any education program or activity that is federally funded.

“He believed anybody should be able to play a team sport,” she said.

That could be because of Jim Jenner’s own experience. He moved to San Francisco, near USF, as a 13-year-old. It was a tough time for him, Mina explained, because he didn’t know anyone.

“As he told it, he was headed to the reformatory,” she said, smiling.

Somehow, she says, someone at Star of Sea School on 9th Avenue noticed him. “There’s a kid who needs to be on a team,” Mina recalled, “and they put him on a baseball team. From then on, he played baseball day and night. They took him under their wing, and he wasn’t even Catholic. He felt they were so kind and so nice to him.”

Committed to Giving Back

Jim and Mina JennerJim and Mina met in 1984, and four months later they were married at the Oakland courthouse, where Jim was the Alameda County Public Defender. They met each other through mountain-climbing friends. Jim had climbed most of the highest peaks in the world, and he climbed Mt. Shasta 39 times. Mina, who is now 84, also climbed mountains, and together they were still climbing until shortly before Jim’s illness in 2016.

It was their love of women’s basketball, though that made them regulars at many of the college basketball courts in the Bay Area. At USF, they both found their team, and they were committed to giving back to help students.

“We always felt that the programs that USF offered are predicated on the students going out into the world to help. That was the main thing that impressed Jim about the Catholic schools — they had a mission to go out and help.”

“We both like that and we both feel that it’s really important.”

Learn more about planning a gift that powers tomorrow