Giff Breed
Photo courtesy of the Wendell Powell Studio

Acing it: An alum helps students gain real-world experience through his businesses

March 22, 2024


Giff Breed’s office speaks to his lifelong love of sports. His bookcase is filled with tournament hats and other memorabilia. Two bags of golfclubs lean against a corner. Outside his window, golfers swing their irons on the driving range of Independence Golf Club, co-owned by Giff and his brother, Alan. The UR golf teams play here year-round.

“There’s where the teams play in the winter,” Breed said, pointing across the driving range. “See that building with the big Spider?”

Giff Breed is the co-owner of Independence Golf Course.

During cold weather, the UR men’s and women’s teams tee off from the three-bay garage, which has a synthetic grass floor and, thoughtfully, ceiling heaters to keep them warm. A nearby building houses the coaches’ offices, where the players also study or play ping pong. In nicer weather, they golf on the rolling 18-hole Championship or 9-hole short course.

Breed is a 1981 graduate who majored in journalism. He grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, including his father and siblings. His mother was the mayor of Greenwich, Connecticut. He came to Richmond to play baseball in 1977. “It was fantastic,” he said. “I made a lot of good friends and really enjoyed the city and the school. I met my wife here.” Laura Breed graduated from UR in 1981.

A few years ago, he and his brother funded dugouts and a new scoreboard for UR’s baseball team. His brother Alan is an emeritus trustee whose four children attended UR.

Breed’s commitment to UR students extends beyond the green to the classroom.

“Everyone who has an interest in sports marketing, I have them talk to Giff,” said marketing professor Adam Marquardt. “Giff is unbelievably generous with his time and energy. He has helped hundreds of my students.”

In addition to overseeing the Midlothian golf course and country club, Breed is president of the sports marketing firm Pros Inc. LLC, and runs a golf accessories line, Craigie Sports. A name, image, and likeness venture and other startups are in the works.

Breed has worked with Marquardt and his classes since 2007. Most years, he participates in sports marketing class projects and independent studies. Breed has also worked on 15 capstone projects with Robins MBA students, including one for golfer Ernie Els, with his Pros Inc. Management Group.

This semester, students will present marketing opportunity assessment pitches to Breed and his team at the end of the term. The steps will include researching the market, identifying customer needs, developing a sales proposition, and creating a marketing strategy for one of Breed’s existing or potential businesses. 

“The pitches influence how Giff and the Independence marketing team will approach and prioritize things over the next year,” Marquardt said. “As students apply for internships and jobs, these are real projects and presentations to company leaders that go on the students' resumes.”

Breed enjoys working with the students. “I think I learn a lot more from them than do from me,” he said. “They’ll come up with crazy ideas, and some that are really smart that we’ve got to try.’”

Breed likes to encourage other alums to give back through mentoring. “There’s a community of people who love the school and love the students,” he said. “How can we activate that?”

When a student is genuinely interested and wants to put in the work, Breed is ready to help.

“What I tell any of the students that are here is, `You want to get here at 6? I’ll be here at 6. I'll work as hard as you want.'”