“You can only be successful if you ask.”

Dialing for dollars – it’s not just for reserve funds anymore.

Wealthy donors are fueling a boom in gifts to major-college sports programs, with the biggest athletics departments reporting a total of more than $1-billion in donations last year, according to a survey released this week by the Council for Aid to Education. It’s the third time in the past four years that sports gifts have topped $1-billion…

During 2014 those colleges raised a collective $1.26-billion for sports, the largest one-year haul in the past 10 years of the survey. Texas A&M’s share was the second-biggest one-year total in the survey’s recent history. In 2013 the University of Oregon brought in nearly $133-million for sports.

The wealthiest programs accounted for the vast majority of contributions. Last year the top 20 athletics departments reported collective donations of more than $700-million—more than half of the $1.26-billion raised.

That money will help cover large capital expenditures and fast-rising coaching salaries, say athletic directors at several big colleges. In some programs the dollars will go toward endowments to offset increasing scholarship costs.

“A lot of the facilities we compete in were built with state dollars, and that will rarely happen anymore,” said Greg Byrne, vice president for athletics at the University of Arizona. “Many of us have had to look ourselves in the mirror as our infrastructure has needed replacing, and realize that philanthropic gifts are going to be the only way to solve that issue.”

Don’t forget more TV money.

Seriously, if you want to know what’s driving college athletics to care less about the average fan who attends games and more about, well, just about everyone else it caters to, look no further than a decline in state funding support.  Reasonable minds can differ on whether that’s good or bad, but it’s clear that it has consequences.  Because big schools want big money.

3 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness

3 responses to ““You can only be successful if you ask.”

  1. Scorpio Jones, III

    Maybe this is the time to offer the opinion that Georgia’s sudden raise-happy athletic director was, in fact, responding to the changing marketplace, but not in the way the conventional wisdom would have us believe.

    What if the athletic director (with some suggestions from above and afar) is taking the position that since making the field of four, or eight, or whatever it will be next, will generate considerable profit to them what gets in, that the thing to do is make a major investment in increasing the chances that Georgia gets some of that money in the not-too-distant future?

    My “sources” indicate this was the driving force behind the raise-happy athletic director’s seeming change of heart, although to get all raise-happy he certainly did have to go to the athletic board, one of whose members is also the athletic director’s direct supervisor.

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  2. Ted Deviasse

    Does any one know when the checks from the SEC Network, CBS, ESPN get doled out? Is it quarterly, bi-annually, or annually? Just wondering if the timing of these payouts coincided with the big contract payouts across the conference in college football.

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    • I thought I read somewhere that the SEC distributes checks during the summer. The distributions are made annually and include shares of all the cbs, ESPN and SEC Network money.

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