Athletics starts new campaign

After raising $84.4 million through the University-wide five-year Yale Tomorrow fundraising campaign, the Athletics Department has begun a new drive for donations called Operation Overtime.

The campaign officially began July 1, when officials in the Athletics Department first reached out to alumni to alert them of the new program, said Alison Cole ’99, director of the campaign and associate athletic director for development and outreach. The initiative, which was announced in an online press release Tuesday and launches its website today, raises the Athletics Department’s annual fundraising goal from $2 million to $2.5 million to keep donors involved in post-campaign fundraising and to help provide financial security in the future, Cole said.

“Overtime always immediately follows the end of the game,” Cole said in a Wednesday email. “Our Overtime drive is immediately following the campaign so as not to lose the momentum and connection we have gained with our alumni.”

Operation Overtime will focus on endowing athletics programs to better prepare them for any future shocks to the economy. In addition to ordinary donations, alumni are being encouraged to begin new “programmatic endowments,” Cole said, which alumni can establish in honor of coaches, former student-athletes or others with gifts of more than $100,000. They will be invested with the University endowment and help contribute to the Athletics Department’s annual operating budget.

Still, the new campaign has a different purpose than Yale Tomorrow, which primarily sought gifts for capital projects and improvements on facilities, such as Ingalls Rink and the Yale Bowl, Cole said. She added that she expects the alumni who donated as part of Yale Tomorrow over the past five years will support the new campaign as well.

Cole said the Athletics Department is currently facing a budget shortfall in the wake of the nearly 25 percent drop in the University endowment in the 2009 fiscal year.

“We are looking for creative ways to make up that funding gap that keep our alumni and friends excited about Yale Athletics,” Cole said. “We have a strong partnership with the University, but our goals are Ivy Championships in all of our programs and that means we have to raise the bar.”

Vice President of Development Inge Reichenbach said that she did not recognize the name Operation Overtime and had not heard of the increased fundraising target, though she said she was familiar with the Athletic Department’s annual fundraiser. Both Deputy Provost for Academic Resources Lloyd Suttle and Provost Peter Salovey said they had not yet heard of Operation Overtime when contacted on Wednesday.

Suttle said in a Wednesday email that, in dealing with budget issues, administrators treat the Athletics Department the same as they would as any other “academic support unit,” such as an art gallery or library. This means athletics are financially supported through several different avenues, Suttle added, including general University appropriations, athletics-specific endowment funds, outside gifts and external revenue such as ticket sales.

Beginning in January, the Athletics Department will hold three fundraising challenges as part of the new initiative: the WISER Challenge for female athletics alumnae, the Young Alumni Challenge for former athletes from the classes of 2001-’11 and the Ray Tompkins Associates Challenge for all former athletes. Details of what these challenges will entail have not yet been released.

Yale Tomorrow raised a total of $3.88 billion from September 2006 until June 2010.

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