Allan Jones Foundation Makes Final Payment For Cleveland, Bradley Central High School Wrestling Facilities

Monday, June 6, 2011

The philanthropic foundation established by Allan Jones has made its final payments to complete its contribution to wrestling facilities at Cleveland and Bradley Central high schools.

The final payments by The Allan Jones Foundation completes a multi-year commitment to each school.

The two high schools have been in a neck-and-neck race for state supremacy. Cleveland finished second to Bradley five consecutive years before finally capturing the state traditional tournament this season.

Bradley, meanwhile, won the state dual championship and extended its run as the most dominate sports program in Tennessee history with 20 state championships and numerous other records under now-retired coach Steve Logsdon.

“It’s unique that in the same year the foundation completes its gifts for these two wrestling centers, both teams win a state championship,” said Mr. Jones, a 1972 graduate and former wrestler for Cleveland High School. “I couldn’t be more proud that out of all the teams in Tennessee, our little town finished first and second, and second and first in the two state tournaments and that our two schools have been first and second for the last five years.”

Mr. Jones began his business career in his hometown of Cleveland at his family’s Credit Bureau Services company. In 1993 he founded Check Into Cash, a payday lending company that has grown into one of the nation’s providers of short-term credit and micro-lending. Check Into Cash now has more than 1,100 locations in 30 states.

Mr. Jones, who serves as chairman and chief executive officer of Check Into Cash, made the wrestling center donations in honor of his parents, W.A. (Bill) and Virginia Slaughter Jones. The wrestling center at Cleveland High School bears his father’s name.

While Mr. Jones expressed pride in his hometown schools, he was quick to note that the wrestling centers were not the secret ingredient to the wrestling success in Cleveland, Tn.

“It has very little to do with the buildings and it has everything to do with the right coaches,” Mr. Jones said. “Bricks and mortar aren’t that important. Money can’t do this. Schools that win consistently have outstanding coaches leading their programs.”

Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland agreed, but he said that Jones “has done more to educate the community on wrestling than any one person.” In addition to these wrestling centers, the Allan Jones Foundation has been active in supporting numerous other athletic projects throughout the country.

Bradley County Mayor Gary Davis agreed. He said it was a unique arrangement that led to these two wrestling centers being constructed a decade ago, because it was the first time local governments used promissory notes from a private backer.

Coach Logsdon, whose list of accolades at Bradley Central includes a 17-year home winning streak, 20 state titles and seven runner-up titles, coached his last season this year. His last senior squad carried a record of 91 wins and one loss, and won 27 of 28 tournaments, with the sole loss recorded against Cleveland High School in this year’s state championship.

“It’s common for wrestling programs to share facilities with other programs, and wrestling may not always get the first pick of the schedule. This is a place to call our own,” Mr. Logsdon said.

Cleveland High School’s program took off five years ago after a national search conducted by Mr. Jones led to the hiring of Coach Heath Eslinger. Mr. Eslinger and several other CHS coaches made the unheard of jump from the high school ranks to a Division I college by taking over the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling program.

Eric Phillips remained at CHS and now coaches Cleveland. He said it’s an honor to have inherited a dedicated wrestling gymnasium for the Blue Raiders team.

“There are a lot of wrestling programs that practice in cafeterias and rundown buildings,” Mr. Phillips said. “This building has made our wrestlers feel special, and it's something they really taken ownership in.”

For more information on the Allan Jones Foundation visit www.allanjonesfoundation.com.


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