A down economy? Not for college sports
Donations to the largest college sports programs climbed as the U.S. economy faltered, with contributions rising 24 percent from the middle of 2006 to the middle of 2010, Bloomberg reported.
The 54 public schools in the six most powerful sports conferences, a list that includes the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, collected $998 million in fiscal 2010, up from $805 million in 2007, according to records from colleges in the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences.
The increase came during a period when unemployment jumped to 9.5 percent from 4.6 percent, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 19.5 percent.
What sustained contribution levels were the gifts that schools require fans to make to purchase, or hold on to, tickets for prime seats, especially at football and men’s basketball games, according to fund-raising executives.
“People are worried about paying their mortgage and car payment and covering the gas bill, and they are making cuts in other areas of their lives to hold on to their (University of Florida) tickets,” said Doug Brown, associate executive director of Gator Boosters Inc. “It’s surprising we’re doing as well as we are.”
The University of Iowa had the 11th-highest contribution in 2010 among public universities, with $26,753,591. That was ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten Conference. Iowa State had contributions of $13,053,329, which was last in the Big 12 Conference and 34th overall.