It actually took three tries for G. Charles “Chuck” Lapeyre to be elected to the Sugar Bowl committee in 1999. But the way the organization’s new president sees it, that was for the best.
“There’s so much time and effort involved,” Lapeyre said. “When I was younger, I was traveling too much, I think. Now I have more time to devote to it and, when you’re the president, you certainly need it.”
Lapeyre, an independent investor who has headed several businesses in his career, has put that experience to good use with the Sugar Bowl, serving on the investment and finance committees, the latter of which he headed as chairman for six years.
As such, he was directly involved in the Sugar Bowl’s decision to pursue and land a partnership with the Southeastern Conference and Big 12 that began with the arrival of the College Football Playoff as well as the successful bid for 2020 CFP title game.
Both involved a considerable financial obligation from the bowl.
“It’s a very big deal for the Sugar Bowl to remain as one of the top events in college football,” he said. “We had to put a lot of money out there to make sure that continues to happen, and that meant dipping into our reserves. But we are determined to remain relevant and to continue to fulfill our mission to amateur athletics and the city of New Orleans.”
To Sugar Bowl Chief Executive Officer, Paul Hoolahan, Lapeyre’s business experience is a welcome asset.
“Chuck has tremendous familiarity with our business model,” Hoolahan said. “That’s vital for us. But he’s also a very outgoing person who has embraced the hospitality end of the job. That makes him very, very good for the role.”
Indeed, Lapeyre’s perspective on the Sugar Bowl isn’t all facts and figures.
At Newman, he was all-state in football and basketball, and he was a four-year letterman and two-year starter at defensive end at Tulane (1972-75).
That put him on the Green Wave team that scored a memorable victory against LSU in 1973 — “I was mostly just on the sidelines enjoying it all,” he said — and which made the transition from Tulane Stadium to the Superdome.
Tulane played and defeated Ole Miss in that first game in the Dome, and it happened that the first Sugar Bowl Lapeyre attended was the 1970 game between the Rebels and Arkansas.
So he found it significant that Ole Miss’ first appearance since that game was this year’s matchup against Oklahoma State, the first in the bowl’s SEC-Big 12 partnership.
“It really brought home that the Sugar Bowl is a destination game,” said Lapeyre, who succeeds Carey Wicker. “Oklahoma State and Ole Miss were excited to be here, and the fan turnout proved that. Looking forward, we know we’re not in control of who the teams are any longer, but we feel happy that the Sugar Bowl is in a very good place.”
Lapeyre added that, although having the Big 12-SEC game as well as the future title game did mean a large financial commitment, he sees the Sugar Bowl continuing to support and expand its sponsorship of the more than 50 events it is affiliated with.
“We are one of the most successful amateur sports organizations in the country, and I am 100 percent committed to ensuring that we maintain and grow that position,” he said.
The other Sugar Bowl officers for 2016-17 are president-elect Stanley Cohn, vice president Roderick West, treasurer Monique Morial and secretary Ralph Capitelli. Also, past-president Dennis Waldron was elected chairman of the executive committee, which added Raymond Jeandron, Dottie Reese and Noel Rivers III.