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Sports memorabilia is a staple at every athletic auction

Sports memorabilia is a staple at every athletic auction

Looking for a proven method of fundraising on a college campus? Look no further than one of the oldest techniques around, the auction. Boise State University is one of the many universities around the nation using this simple and effective way to raise money for their student-athletes and athletic departments.

For years, individual sports have held auctions to benefit their specific programs, earning enough money for an extra cross-country road game or new balls for practice. However, to take full advantage of this giving opportunity, departments should investigate hosting a large-scale auction. At Boise State this spring, the Bronco Athletic Association and Boise State University Alumni Association will team up to host their annual Boise State Auction (started in 1983). Proceeds from the event, in their case, go directly to academic and athletic scholarships. According to the Boise State website, over $2,800,000 has been raised during the past 12 auctions, or approximately $233,000 per year. The price to attend the event starts a $150 per person, and climbs as high as $6,000 for a table of 10.

In addition to their live auction held every spring, Boise State also supports an online auction that runs from November to March each year. Items include specialty sports items as well as hard-to-find Boise State memorabilia that dedicated fans and donors would appreciate. The key for BSU appears to be their partnership with the university’s alumni association. By “tapping” into another set of donors, the athletics department is opening themselves up to money that may have otherwise been off limits.

How then, with an auction, can you make the experience above and beyond the typical auction atmosphere? I had the opportunity to be involved in the Aggie Auction, held each May in Davis, California at UC Davis. One of many unique aspects of the Aggie Auction is the degree to which the student-athletes become a part of the event. Student-athletes are invited to mingle with the donors during the silent auctions, they are the servers/wait-staff during the meal portion of the program, and the student-athletes often provide the entertainment during the night. I can promise that few of the attendees of the 2007 Aggie Auction will forget when the men’s basketball team’s 7-foot center took the stage to sing a modified version of “New York, New York” (modified to “Davis, Davis”).

By giving the group of donors at the Aggie Auction a chance to see a side of the UC Davis student-athletes that differs from what is on the field of competition, UC Davis is adding value to the their donor base. When donors feel a more personal connection with the student-athletes of the university they support, their willingness to become further engaged will likely raise.

Of course Boise State and UC Davis are not alone, and many other universities host auctions each year. An auction, be it online or live at the university, can bring an annual flow of cash that will always be welcome. Here is a sample of other such events held at universities across the nation:

Western Oregon, Wolfpack Athletic Auction

Augustana College Athletic Club Auction

Humboldt State University Sports Auction

Drury University Athletic Auction

Georgia College Athletics Auction


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