Fundraising effort to galvanize entire community to elevate student-athlete experience, caliber of the academic and athletics enterprise
Against the backdrop of Kaplan Arena, the university launched a $55-million campaign for William & Mary Athletics this evening. Aptly titled “All In,” the campaign will galvanize the entire W&M community to shape a bolder future in which all student-athletes can perform at their highest level and reach their fullest potential. The fundraising endeavor comes at a pivotal moment for the Tribe as it rises to seize this opportunity to emerge stronger and to elevate the caliber and national prestige of the academic and athletics enterprise.
The overarching goals of the campaign — engage and build community, increase annual giving and raise $55 million — will enable William & Mary Athletics to chart a sustainable and equitable path forward.
“We must invest in our future, not just for athletics but for the entire university. An investment in our student-athletes is an investment in William & Mary,” said President Katherine Rowe. “For more than 100 years, athletics has brought our community together. In learning and striving for themselves, for their teams and for the university, exceptional student-athletes advance William & Mary’s mission. Now is the time to be all in.”
The campaign comes when athletics departments at universities and colleges across the nation navigate an extremely difficult financial landscape. Through All In, William & Mary signals its commitment to secure and strengthen its athletics program’s future. Higher levels of philanthropic support will do just that, added Rowe.
Building off the tremendous success of the For the Bold campaign, All In was conceived as a rallying cry for students, coaches, faculty, alumni, parents, staff and friends to come together to support all 23 Division I varsity teams, provide for future stability, enhance equity and bolster the entire academic experience at W&M. It also places a heavy emphasis on student-athlete development by transforming the places where players train, compete and study. To that end, efforts are underway through All In to reimagine the home for athletics. These include building a new Sports Performance Center and revitalizing Kaplan Arena — two facilities of many that will encompass the William & Mary Athletics Complex — among other areas.
The reimagined home will require an additional $33-million investment and will represent the importance of athletics to the university and the value the university places on it as an essential part of the W&M experience. While a large percentage of funds was secured for the complex through For the Bold, there remains a gap in funding to begin the project, which will now move forward in a phased approach.
The university has already secured $17 million toward the comprehensive $55-million campaign goal. Nearly a third of this goal is designated for expendable, or immediate-use, funds — the area of greatest need for athletics to sustain its operations.
Preceding the public launch of All In, an anonymous alumni couple contributed a $5-million gift that will fuel the athletics department’s most pressing needs and priorities. The gift was made to demonstrate support for President Rowe’s leadership and confidence in W&M Athletics’ future. It gives discretion to the athletics director to allocate funds as needed to help the program thrive. Separately, the university announced last fall a $1.5-million challenge gift from an anonymous alumna supporting women’s athletics scholarships. Women’s athletics scholarships will remain an area of immense focus as the university enhances efforts to afford equitable opportunities for all its student-athletes.
“The pandemic has amplified the intense need to support W&M Athletics. I’ve seen our community persevere and come together over the last year like never before, as is evident in these generous gifts, and I know that we can — we will — surmount the adversities that we currently face,” said Interim Athletics Director Jeremy Martin Ph.D. ’12, M.B.A. ’17. “If we meet our goal of building community, thereby raising the level of pride in the athletics program, increasing broad-based annual support and raising the necessary funds, we will be better positioned in the short- and long-run.”
Since 2015, existing reserves have been utilized each year to balance the athletics department’s budget. Those reserves are now depleted, according to Martin. W&M Athletics on average faces a $5-million deficit every year — impacting the department’s ability to operate effectively — and relies on private support to close the gap.
According to public data, fewer than 10% of Division I athletic departments generate enough revenue to cover the expenses of their sports programs.
W&M Athletics will need to raise at least $5 million annually in immediate-use funds that will support scholarships, equitable participation opportunities for women-athletes and resources for coaches, among other essential areas. All 23 sports teams will also have annual fundraising goals and must meet them by June 30 each year.
Notably, athletics does not receive support from the state. It relies heavily on annual giving, which can represent between 15 and 20% of the athletics yearly budget.
“W&M Athletics is at a crossroads. All 500 student-athletes and the nearly 115 coaches and staff rely on the support of our entire community,” said All In Chair Sue Hanna Gerdelman ’76. “When we are united, we win. William & Mary is stronger because of athletics, our classrooms are enriched because of athletics and our Tribe Pride is louder because of athletics. Let’s continue to fight for what we believe in. Let’s go all in.”
Gerdelman, who previously served as the university’s For the Bold campaign chair, will lead the All In fundraising effort in the same capacity. Honorary co-chairs of the campaign include Todd Boehly ’96 and Katie Garrett Boehly ’95, Jill Ellis ’88, L.H.D. ’16 and Betsy Stephenson, Jennifer Tepper Mackesy ’91 and D. Scott Mackesy ’91 as well as Mike Tomlin ’95, L.H.D. ’08 and Kiya Tomlin ’96.
“The actions we take today will define our tomorrow. Now is the moment to seize the opportunity before us to shape a brighter future for our athletics program,” added Gerdelman.
“Through this campaign, we will provide enriching opportunities for our Tribe family to celebrate and take pride in athletics while ensuring its long-term financial sustainability.”
For more information about All In and to learn more about ways you can support W&M Athletics, please visit tribeathletics.com/allin.