Kansas University women's basketball coach Marian Washington is "delighted" about a new foundation that is being formed to support the team, she said Thursday.
Renate Mai-Dalton, associate professor of business, is organizing the group, which hopes to raise $7,500 its first year. During an interview earlier this week, Mai-Dalton said she hoped the group not only would raise money for the women's basketball program through membership fees and fund-raising events but also give it more visibility.
It all sounds good to Washington, whose team is going into its game this weekend against Emporia State University with a record of six wins and no losses. Mai-Dalton said many people don't realize how exciting women's basketball is at KU.
"There are several positive sides to women's basketball," she said. "One of them is that it is an exciting game."
MAI-DALTON, who served on KU Athletic Corp. board for seven years, said the women's team plays with finesse.
Asked whether she thought women's sports received enough recognition at KU, Mai-Dalton answered, "At this time, no."
"We are in the minority in the Big Eight in that we don't have a support group for women's basketball," Mai-Dalton said.
Washington said Kansas Women's Sports Inc. supported women's sports at KU several years ago but eventually dissolved, leaving a void.
"Such a group has been greatly needed for women's basketball," Washington said.
First and foremost, the group will serve as a vehicle to get people involved who have an interest in women's basketball, said Washington, who agreed with Mai-Dalton that financial support of the team is almost as important as getting fans to the games.
MEMBERS OF the group would pay $100 to join the "Coaches Club" and $50 to join the "Team Club." The foundation has not yet been named.
In a letter to recruit members for the foundation, Mai-Dalton asked what kinds of activities they would like the club to offer. Mai-Dalton said she thought an annual luncheon for members would be appropriate.
Mai-Dalton said she didn't know at this time whether regular meetings would be a part of the foundation. She said she would welcome active participation by members of the group who have time to be involved. Other members may only financially support the group, she said.
In the letter, Mai-Dalton said the women's basketball team's average annual operating budget increases about 3 percent every year while the estimated inflation rate of all sports budgets has been close to 10 percent.
She pointed out that when money is tight, the marketing and promotions budget tends to be one of the first things cut. Mai-Dalton would like to see more funds dedicated to publicizing Washington's team.
Washington, whom Mai-Dalton called a "national treasure," said all sports at KU that are not able to generate as much revenue as men's basketball feel a "tremendous amount of pressure."
Mai-Dalton said she expected that a good portion of the funds would go toward recruitment and travel expenses.
ASKED WHAT her wish list would be, Washington said, "There's a lot of things we can use money for. Believe me, there's a need."
Mai-Dalton said Wednesday that about a third of the $7,500 goal had been raised.
"They're coming in every day," she said, holding a check she received in the mail from a retired volleyball coach. "The response so far has been encouraging."