The Williams Educational Fund, the fundraising arm for Kansas Athletics, long ago established today as the deadline for purchasing basketball season tickets. That hasn’t changed, but the calendar for the following year’s donations has.
“Basically, our calendar has been backwards,” said Doug Banks, assistant athletic director/development. “Previously, last year’s donation or pledge would count for this year’s football (priority points), so you were basically a year ahead of what you wanted. But then this year’s pledge was for this year’s basketball.”
Banks, who worked with athletic director Sheahon Zenger at Kansas State and Illinois State, said he was surprised to see KU’s points system being split between two different school years.
“We found a lot of people were confused because they assumed that when they made a pledge for the upcoming sports year, it took care of football and basketball, when it didn’t,” Banks said. “It took care of last year’s football with regards to seating and parking, and it took care of this year’s basketball.”
In the old system, if someone increased the level of his or her donation, the reward for doing so — better football seats — would be delayed a year because the priority points used were from the previous year, which was not the case with basketball.
The Williams Fund restructured its calendar to have donations apply to the upcoming year’s priority points in both football and basketball and moved the payment deadline up to February.
“That’s how it’s typically done, and that’s how we did it at Illinois State,” Banks said. “The funny thing is, if somebody is used to giving their contribution the same month every year, they’re still going to be able to do that. That’s not going to change.”
For one year, however, those accustomed to making their payments at the deadline, on the last day of June, must turn around and make their next payment in February. In the long run, they make one payment a year, but for this one year, the turn-around is quicker.
“To fix the calendar and put both sports on the same school-year calendar, you have to shorten something somewhere,” Banks said. “But we’ll work with people on the back end if they need more time. If you can’t make the payment in February this year, we’ll work with you. We certainly don’t want to offend anybody. Once we get on that February-to-February cycle and all the points count for that year for all sports, people will be a lot happier.”
Zenger said he thinks the new calendar will work better for all parties.
“We now will know what we’re getting, when we’re getting it, and, overall, people will be less confused,” Zenger said.
Banks said Williams Fund representatives are “excited about the pace of pledges that are coming in. A lot of it obviously is tied to last year’s basketball success, not only the men but the women, and also the excitement with football because of (coach) Charlie (Weis).
“A lot of people, they all say we can tell that there’s a change, and there’s a positive change. I’m out to all corners of the state, and everybody I talk to, they’re excited and tickled for Sept. 1 to get here. And I think the folks who were able to go to the spring game saw a lot of the things they were anxious to see with regards to the kids playing with a little bit more passion and a little bit more discipline.”
Banks, who left Illinois State for Kansas 11 months ago, played Division II football as a wide receiver and punt returner at Nebraska-Kearney and coached those same positions for three seasons at his alma mater.