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Eli Manning, wife donate $1M to Ole Miss scholarship program

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and his wife, Abby, have given $1 million to a needs-based academic scholarship program at their alma mater, the University of Mississippi.

"We recently talked with Chancellor (Dan) Jones about several ways that we could give back," Manning said Saturday. "Abby and I were drawn to this program of helping people who might not be able to attend college otherwise. To us, it was a way of truly helping a lot of people."

Ole Miss Opportunity was created this year, after the school approved a 6.5 percent tuition increase, to cover the gap between all of a student's other scholarships and grants and the average cost of tuition, housing and a meal allowance.

"Academics was very important to me when I was here," said Manning, who met his wife when they were both students at the Oxford, Miss., school. "I studied and worked hard trying to make good grades.

Manning was named to the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll from 2000 to 2002, as well as the 2001 and 2002 Verizon District VI All-Academic first-team and the 2001 Verizon national All-Academic second-team.

"This giving back is really about giving someone a chance to enjoy Ole Miss," Manning continued. "The reason I came to Ole Miss over many other schools is because I thought if I never played a down of football, this is where I would want to go to school."

Manning graduated in 2003 with a degree in marketing, was the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2004 NFL Draft and led the Giants to win Super Bowl XLII in the 2008 season. Abby McGrew Manning, a native of Nashville, earned a degree in family and consumer sciences in 2005 and pursued a career in fashion.

The Mannings have a home in Oxford and said they enjoy their continued involvement with the university, the community and local friends.

Jones applauded the Mannings for continuing a family legacy of scholarships. Eli Manning's parents, Olivia and Archie Manning, also attended the university.

"The Manning family has built a strong legacy of support impacting Ole Miss for more than four decades," Jones said. "This major commitment to our academic programs from a family strongly associated with our athletics programs will certainly inspire others to support our students and faculty."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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