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Posts Tagged ‘dropping sports’

Faced with the most challenging economic climate in the past 80 years, intercollegiate athletics are certainly not immune to the pressure. In Champaign Illinois, the University of Illinois has delayed plans to renovate/rebuild their aging basketball facility. Schools around the nation are  dropping sports and considering significant budget cuts. In Washington, Washington State and the University of Washington have considered delaying the renovation of their football facilities due to lack of funding sources. All of these situations can be attributed to the ailing economy.
Each of these occurrences is also directly linked to athletics development departments and their ability to raise funds during these difficult economic times. During such times, specific measures must be taken to account for the changing attitude of donors.
From the conversations I have had with development officers recently and what I have read in the news, most universities have remained optimistic that their annual fund will not suffer substantially due to the economy. However, some adjustments are being made. Some schools are encouraging donors to give to scholarship funds first, and capital campaigns later, citing the need to maintain scholarship money as a top priority.
It is also important to be aware of the financial standings of donors. Development officers must be empathetic to potential donor financial problems, and should not ask at a time when it is impossible for them to give. Universities, instead, can compensate by focusing on stewardship and improving the relationship between them and their top donors.
In the long run, it can be expected that the economy will recover, donor levels will again grow from year to year, and capital campaigns will rebound. However, in the meantime, athletic departments can focus on donor relationships and keeping the annual funds at a consistent level to support student-athletes.
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