Voting with our pocketbooks

Perhaps the purveyors of the hot seat meme ought to take some cold, hard numbers into account.

… Donations to the Georgia athletics program have topped last year’s level despite the Bulldogs’ first losing football season in 14 years.

Contributions to the “Hartman Fund,” the fund-raising vehicle that is tied to football season tickets, stood at $22.94 million as of Monday night with “still a few dribbling in,” according to Dave Muia, the athletics department official who oversees fund-raising and alumni relations.

That total exceeds last year’s contributions of $22.74 million.

Granted, 2009-10 was a brutal stretch, economically speaking.  But it’s not like things have gotten dramatically better lately.  Based on those dollars, I don’t see how you can argue that Richt’s recent performance is turning fans away from the program.

That, in turn, is consistent with the overall story of college football’s popularity, which has proven to be amazingly resilient.

The pro-playoff crowd won’t like hearing this: College football has never been more popular.

For the fourth time in five years, according to numbers released Wednesday by the National Football Foundation, college football set an attendance record. More than 49 million fans turned out to watch games at 639 NCAA schools, an increase of nearly three percent over last year and 26 percent since 1997.

The BCS clearly has its flaws, but even those who advocate a 16-team playoff would have a tough time arguing that it has not increased interest in the regular season and its do-or-die nature.

And for those who rail on supposedly “meaningless” bowl games, take note that the 35 games also set an attendance record by drawing an average of 51,806 fans.

You’ll find more happy news here.

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22 Comments

Filed under College Football, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

22 responses to “Voting with our pocketbooks

  1. Castleberry

    This reminds me of the Hartman Fund deadline post last month. I was pretty upset that they sent a reminder out after the deadline. I’ve already paid for my football tickets. That deadline is March 31st – or is it? Maybe I can wait and pay in August?

    Glad donations are up, though.

    • DawgPhan

      It is my understanding that they have always been a little lenient with the deadlines for tickets. I am sure if you forgot to donate before the 15th and you called them, they would still take your money.

      • Castleberry

        I know you are right because they sent a reminder after the deadline passed. It’s just me being a pain in the ass. If a deadline is soft, it isn’t a deadline. If it is soft, I want to know how soft it is. I like holding on to my money as long as possible.

  2. I’m starting to wonder how strong of a bellwether Hartman Fund donations are of Richt’s support. The South seems to have an inordinate number of fans who are the modern-day equivalent of the old “yellow dog Democrats,” i.e., they’d buy season tickets even if we had a yellow dog for a coach. Yes, Tennessee saw a dip, but Mike Hamilton has done his damnedest to make a smoking crater of that program over the past few years. Between hanging on to a declining Fulmer for too long, the spectacularly bad Kiffin hire and now the rebuilding job under Dooley, Hamilton has allowed nearly a decade’s worth of brand equity erosion. Safe to say the Vols are an outlier.

    My recollection may be dim, but Donnan’s Waterloo wasn’t overall donations, it was when the big money guys called bullshit after the 2000 Tech loss. Would be interesting to see what our top 10-20% donors have done, although my suspicion is that this is a pretty patient bunch in general, and particularly with Richt.

  3. JBJ

    That seems like a good indicator that CMR has solid support and UGA does not have fair weather fans. I would like to see the final numbers on season ticket sales. Do you know if they will release those?

  4. ScoutDawg

    That to me is impressive. People say UGA fans are the most incendiary, reactionary, in the country. This just shows me Die Hard Dawgs are always Die Hard Dawgs. GATA.

  5. Ausdawg85

    It’s good news, but the BSU game and extra available tickets probalby have some influence too, so thank McGarity as well.

    • Exactly my thinking. While overall donations are up, I want to know how much of that is from first time contributors. I graduated back in 2007 and this was the first time I contributed because it seemed like it may be the lowest contribution for first time buyers that I may ever experience. IMHO, this is one area where the AD falls far short in making season tickets available to new alumni that don’t have the financial resources to contribute what is currently necessary.

      • Castleberry

        I’d say making tickets available is largely out of McGarity’s control. He’s either going to have to expand the stadium or take tickets away from someone who has them now. If it isn’t a renewing season ticket holder, it’s students, faculty, players family, visitors, etc.

        You may be right on the lowest cutoff for new tickets. Next year’s home schedule isn’t good either – so you’ll probably have a good chance at them then, too.

  6. KornDawg

    When I first donated to GEEF in 2004, I gave $600 and hoped for the best. That wasn’t enough, but I elected not to take a refund and contributed $700 in 2005. That got me in, and I have no intention of giving up my seats regardless of who is coaching. As long as the minimum contribution to renew doesn’t change drastically and my finances will allow, I plan to keep buying tickets.

  7. Chris

    Are those $$ adjusted for inflation?

  8. ugafish

    Giving the BCS credit for the increasing popularity of CFB? Thats hilarious.

  9. kckd

    LOL, I’m pro playoff and happier than ever that college football is very popular. I don’t get you dude. This bothers you in a very big way and you just can’t help yourself.

  10. sUGArdaddy

    It’s because people like me and the Senator can’t understand why pro-playoff people can’t see the potential irreparable damage a large playoff would do to college football. It would change EVERYTHING, and I’m not convinced in a good way.

    Plus, if you’re an SEC guy, we should never want a playoff. If we win our league w/ 1 or 0 losses, in most years, we’re in. Why would we want to play more games that are potential roadblocks?

  11. 69Dawg

    Well we all did not keep up the good times I went from 6 season tickets down to two. They wrote me all concerned but it really is just the case of age catching up with me and a 500 mile one way trip to the game. My son will be using the tickets I kept.

  12. kckd

    Maybe you, definitely the Senator, talk more about a college playoff than the biggest college playoff proponents do. If there is a sentence about the college playoff, in a story entirely related to something else, the Senator will link it here and wax ad nauseum about it. I think you and him may be more upset about them going to a playoff in the future because there won’t be much debate about it afterwards. Maybe that’s what it’s all about.

    • Maybe you, definitely the Senator, talk more about a college playoff than the biggest college playoff proponents do.

      I guess you’re not including Dan Wetzel in that statement.

      By the way, exactly how did I “wax ad nauseum” in my post?

      There’s certainly somebody upset here, but I don’t think it’s me.

  13. kckd

    Let’s just put it like this, the story had nothing to say or do with a college playoff, but you find a way to get it in there somewhere.

  14. kckd

    I include Wetzel to an extent, but it’s not even something on the forefront of college football right now. Not even close. It was maybe a few years ago when Slive mentioned plus one. But college football has too much other crap to fix right now.

  15. Bulldog Joe

    Yet, we are still in the bottom half of the SEC when it comes to actually spending this money on the football program.