Today, philanthropist and investing paragon Martin ‘Marty’ Erzinger owns and operates Sanctuary Advisors, a comprehensive wealth advisory consultancy in Denver, Colorado.
45 years ago, however, Marty’s life was starkly different.
In the late 1970s, Marty Erzinger was playing collegiate-level football for the University of Colorado Buffaloes, known affectionately by fans as the ‘CU Buffs’.
Because of his academic and athletic prowess, Marty had earned himself a full-ride sports scholarship at the university, an achievement that would set the stage for more than four decades of unwavering support of this 144-year-old Colorado institution.
Throughout the years, Marty has played an active, ardent role in contributing to the university through fundraising, recruiting, and financial support. And, when you realize just how formative Marty Erzinger’s college experience was for him, his career, and his family, you begin to understand why he continues to maintain a die-hard allegiance to CU.
From Football Coach to Wall Street Whiz
When Marty was playing football for CU in the Fall of 1978, there was a critical shuffle of the coaching deck as a result of a career-ending injury.
This administrative change meant that Marty Erzinger had a decision to make: he could either ‘check out’ of the athletic program and continue his scholarship through academic pursuits, or he could go to work as a coach and recruiter for the CU Buffs.
Fatefully, Marty chose the latter.
That season, Marty became an undergraduate assistant and took on responsibilities related to in-state recruiting. If you were a prospective CU Buffs football player in the 1978/1979 school year, Marty was the one who arranged your visit to the campus and facilitated your interaction with the coaches.
This line of work was a significant departure from the professions Marty’s parents chose. His father was a construction worker, and his mother was a medical technician. But, because of Marty’s personable attitude towards the parents of CU Buffs football recruits, he quickly found a fit as a kind of salesperson for the university.
However, there was a problem: Marty’s scholarship had run out.
Distraught and on edge about his academic future, Marty made an appeal to then-Athletic Director of the CU Buffs, Eddie Crowder. Marty recalls the conversation as if it took place yesterday…he asked Eddie Crowder to pay for his last year of schooling, and if he did, Marty promised to repay the favor after he entered the working world.
Self-Made for Stocks
In the summer of 1979, at the impressionable age of 21, Marty Erzinger made a remarkable transition to Wall Street. A family friend had arranged for him to interview with a company that was integral to the operation of the New York Stock Exchange.
Even though Marty knew nothing of high-stakes stock market investing, he learned all he could by visiting the exchange, reading every shred of information he could find, and internalizing all of it in record time.
Marty Erzinger had been reborn as a stock market savant. Looking back on it, Marty recalls that it was his experience as a recruiter for the CU Buffs that set him up for success as a salesperson.
Time to Give Back
In 1982, Marty was hired by a financial firm that offered a matching grant program. That year, the CU Buffs football team went 1-and-10 during their regular season—a record that didn’t make supporting the school’s football program all that enticing.
But, Marty never forgot the promise he made to Eddie Crowder three years prior. So, beginning in 1982, Marty Erzinger began donating $10,000+ per year, every year, to the CU Buffs football scholarship program. Initially, these donations were matched dollar-for-dollar by Marty’s employer.
This support continued for 25 years.
Even if Marty’s support of CU stopped there, it would easily be considered monumental. However, Marty and his wife Suzie Erzinger would go on to send five students through CU, supplementing their tuition and further supporting the school by proxy.
In 1994, Marty Erzinger was asked to be on the investment committee within the CU Foundation Board, where he actively assisted with fundraising efforts until 2010. During this time, Marty served as a director and a trustee for two, four-year terms.
While serving on the Board, Marty would meet his wife Suzie through a mutual friend. Suzie’s mother was an Olympic skater in the 1940s, and Suzie herself was a collegiate diver at the University of Michigan. The two shared a love for college-level athletics that naturally brought them together.
After setting up an endowment to raise money from the CU Buffs Class of Champions (the 1975-1977 Buffs football team roster), and after having sent all five football players through CU degree programs, it would be easy for Marty Erzinger to be satisfied with his lifelong support of the university.
But, as is true to form for Marty, his dedicated support of the University of Colorado continues to this day. In his own words, Marty Erzinger says, “I’m a lifelong supporter of CU. I always have been, and I always will be.”