Last week, The Duke athletic department announced that 500 tickets would be made available to students, free of charge, to Duke football's appearance in Dec. 27th's Belk Bowl against Cincinnati. The tickets were made available due to the donation of a then-unnamed donor.

That donor was John Forlines III, a Duke University and Duke Law alumnus, who has also taught a course this semester titled, "Shakespeare & Financial Markets: Why 'This Time' is Never Different." Forlines is the chairman and chief investment officer of JAForlines Global, a New York-based investment management company. His father, John Forlines Jr., was a former Duke trustee and graduate, after whom the Forlines House for alumni on campus is named.

The Chronicle's sports editor Andrew Beaton emailed with John Forlines III about why he chose to purchase the football students.

The Chronicle: What motivated you to buy the tickets for the students?

John Forlines III: It's a thank you to students, some of whom I have gotten to know while I've been down there this fall as well as an acknowledgement of the efforts of David Cutcliffe in revitalizing a long dormant football program. And when the athletic department set the student allotment, I thought it would send a message that having student support at the bowl game was important.

TC: What have you thought of the atmosphere at Wallace Wade Stadium this year?

JF: Due to scheduling issues (my class was on Wednesday nights), I was only able to catch the Clemson game. Even though Duke lost, the atmosphere was pretty electric, far different than the last few years.

TC: Were you a big Duke football fan when you went to school here?

JF: I had friends who played, so it was fun watching them. My sport was basketball—I was a walk-on for basketball (back then, it meant you played JV) for a year before my lack of ability caught up with me.

TC: How has your experience as a professor at Duke affected your perspective on being a fan of the team?

JF: I'm a big fan of all things Duke, and spending time with the kids in my class reinforced for me the notion that this is a special place. As for football,  a great university needs to aspire to excellence in all endeavors, and this one is important because of its scale, historical significance and  connections to the greater Duke community. A successful football program that can bring 40,000 people to Duke’s campus seven Saturdays a year is a valuable  asset for the university.

TC: What is your favorite Duke sports memory?

JF: Can I give you two? First, It's Grant Hill's monster dunk early in the 1991 NCAA Championship game that set the tone and led to Duke basketball's first ever NCAA title. Second, it was Duke's electrifying overtime win in the 2010 NCAA Lacrosse Championship game that sort of closed the chapter on the turmoil that  the program endured a few years earlier. And I was happy for John Danowski, all time good guy who has deep roots up here on Long Island. For football, I believe the Sean Renfree-orchestrated drive and Jamison's Crowder's catch to beat UNC this year is going to stay at or be near the top for a long time.

TC: Who is your all-time favorite Duke athlete and why?

JF: That would be Art Heyman, Duke basketball star from the '60's; his #25 is hanging in Cameron. When I was a kid he led Duke to its first Final Four and was a world class athlete and provocateur. He was a  trash talking Cameron Crazy on the court who backed up everything he said with talent, passion and desire to win. If you ever get a chance to see the You Tube clip of him taking on the entire UNC bench in a fight at the end of a Duke victory, you'll get a glimpse of what I'm talking about.