Archive for Friday, November 13, 2009

KU sees dramatic rise in sports donations

Students camp Thursday for tonight’s game in a newly expanded area in Allen Fieldhouse. The money to help build such expansions comes from an increase in donations to Kansas University Athletics, which are up significantly.

Students camp Thursday for tonight’s game in a newly expanded area in Allen Fieldhouse. The money to help build such expansions comes from an increase in donations to Kansas University Athletics, which are up significantly.

November 13, 2009


While Kansas University’s private giving levels continue to remain strong, the pace of giving to athletics has increased more dramatically than giving to academics.

Since the year ending June 30, 2000, annual giving to KU Athletics has increased more than 300 percent, from $7.5 million to $31.3 million in the year ending June 30, the most recent figures available.

With state budget shortfalls looming again for higher education, athletics programs and facilities continue to prosper, with $7.8 million in improvements to Allen Fieldhouse being recently unveiled in time for basketball season.

The $23.8 million increase in athletic giving comes during a time period when giving to nonathletic causes increased by $29.3 million — a more modest 64 percent rate.

KU has experienced a higher level of success in high-profile sports in the last decade, culminating in a recent Orange Bowl victory for the football program and a national championship for the men’s basketball team.

Also, Athletic Director Lew Perkins — who arrived on the KU campus in June 2003 — has instituted programs designed to increase the level of giving, including a new priority points system for allocating tickets and seats.

Overall giving to the university — which includes the athletic funds — went from $53.3 million in 2000 to $106.4 million this year.

Jim Marchiony, associate athletics director, said increasing private giving to athletics has been a goal of the athletics administration.

“We’ve developed a master plan for athletic success, and we’ve stuck to it,” Marchiony said. “You combine that with the fervor that the alumni and friends have, and you have a good plan for fundraising success.”

Forrest Hoglund, a Dallas-based KU donor whose name appears both on KU’s baseball stadium and on a brain imaging center at KU Medical Center, served as the campaign chairman for KU First, the last major capital campaign for KU.

He said that athletics relies on private donations for its success, and does not receive substantial state support. He said he’s supported Perkins’ efforts to “put a little swagger back” into KU’s programs.

“People recognize that if it’s going to happen, they have to step up to make it happen,” Hoglund said.

At Kansas State University, athletic giving in the most recent fiscal year totaled $18.5 million, a little less than 60 percent of KU’s total.

KSU reported receiving $82.5 million in total and pledged gifts to the university as a whole last year — a figure that differs slightly from the way KU reports its data. Kansas State’s figures include donations that have been deferred, while KU’s figures account only for cash that’s already in-hand.

For Lisa Wolf-Wendel, KU’s faculty senate president and a professor who studies higher education, the new amenities for athletics — renovations to Allen Fieldhouse, new football practice facilities, office space for Olympic sports and a planned Olympic Village — stand in sharp contrast to the tight budget environment that KU’s academics are enduring.

Faculty members are facing furloughs, cutting back on copying expenses and aren’t receiving raises, she said.

“We’re really thinking about those things on a daily basis,” Wolf-Wendel said. “When you’ve got Allen Fieldhouse and they have palazzo tiles in the bathroom and iPod jacks in the locker rooms, it’s hard.”

She said she appreciated a recent $40 million commitment to academics from athletics from revenue raised from the Gridiron Club addition to Memorial Stadium.

“It’s lovely, and it’s great,” Wolf-Wendel said. “I applaud them. It’s wonderful. I hope they keep it up.”

Hoglund said that athletic success stokes university pride, which can help academics.

“From the KU First experience, having a good sports program also helps you raise money for the other things, too,” he said.

KU is planning another major capital campaign, and isn’t the only university in the region with such an initiative. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln recently unveiled its nine-year Campaign for Nebraska effort, with a goal of raising $1.2 billion for the school.


TopJayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

People like to get something in return for their money. If I give a million to the academics dept. What do I get, priority seating in the biology lab? :-)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 7 months ago

There sure are a lot of people in need of a vicarious ego boost and more money than they know what to do with.

yankeevet 8 years, 7 months ago

The atheletic buildings are tip top; excellent condition; doors that lock and work; etc........while the academic buildings are falling apart; leaky roofs; doors that do not lock properly; etc.......what a difference there is between the athletic facilities; and the campus academic facilties.

Ricky_Vaughn 8 years, 7 months ago

I agree 100%, tony88.

It's sad, but I feel like this story is a metphor for the entire country. Just compare the average pro athlete's salary against the average teacher's salary.

ralphralph 8 years, 7 months ago

Reality is hard. People like 'pretend' things, that are fun and easy. What could be more 'pretend' than KU Football?

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 7 months ago

It is easy to criticize KU athletics for their success in garnering funds. In reality, it is a very good thing.

What needs to happen is a top to bottom review of the relationship of KU athletics to the university.

Many think that KU athletics takes money from KU academics, while others maintain that money flows the other way.

Let's get it all out in the open. If KU athletics is taking money away from academics, this is clearly a situation that needs to stop.

If on the other hand KU athletics returns money to the academic side, then more power to KUAC. KU might also think of ways to have athletics better serve the academic mission of the university. $40 million is a good start.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 7 months ago

The criticism isn't so much of KU Athletics, specifically, but rather the screwed-up, bread-and-circus nature of this society, in general.

remember_username 8 years, 7 months ago

I don't get it. I thought we were in a recession? The state of Kansas is cutting funding to education...but schools get new stadiums. Layoffs and freezes in higher education...but dramatic rises in donations to athletics. My brain hurts.

remember_username 8 years, 7 months ago

Topjayhawk - sure, best seat in the lab, want a private tutor? Pony up a million and we'll name a lab after you or something.

Bladerunner 8 years, 7 months ago

There should be a lil jayhawk bell ringer outside every major store....all year round! Sure fire way to make the dough! It works for the Salvation Army.

Cait McKnelly 8 years, 7 months ago

It's sad that people will value athletics over academics, athletes over Rhodes Scholars, stadiums over research labs. It's truly amazing how far away from the creativity and ingenuity of our ancestors we have come in the last 100 years. In an American society where we have double digit unemployment and people are sleeping in cardboard boxes it's hard not to compare us to the decadence of Imperial Rome. This school's sports facilities are state of the art with pools, gyms, a newly renovated field house and stadium while it's academic buildings are crumbling and some maintenance projects have been put off by as much as 10 years and administrators beg the state govt for funds just to keep buildings from falling apart. Trite but the words "bread and circuses" come to mind.

parrothead8 8 years, 7 months ago

Seamus (Anonymous) says… Was the polio vaccine invented by someone who got through college on an athletic scholarship?

No. As a matter of fact, Dr. Salk didn't even patent his vaccine so it could be distributed widely and quickly. Ah, how far the medical field has come...

But back to the crux of this story...yes, the state of funding for academic programs vs. athletic programs is a travesty. However, I certainly do not blame KUAC for the donations they get. That would be like blaming a baseball player who is offered $100M to play ball for 5-6 years. He'd be a fool to turn that down.

Now, I may not like the way that money is spent...

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