$50,000 challenge issued by anonymous donor for basketball

April 13, 2015

Jonathan Toman
[email protected]

The pockets of UCCS basketball may soon get a lot deeper.

An anonymous donor will contribute $50,000 to the UCCS basketball programs if 500 people make a donation to the UCCS Basketball Booster Club. The money, if the challenge is completed, will be used for scholarships for athletes and will be divided evenly between the two programs.

As of April 6, over $4,200 had been donated as part of the program, with over 50 donors, according to Beau Kelly, program manager for University Development. The challenge has to be completed by May 8 for the $50,000 donation to be made.

Any donation amount will count, though each donation is tied to a unique email address.

The announcement comes less than a month after both Mountain Lion programs finished their best respective seasons in school history, with both making the NCAA Tournament as a member of the south-central region.

“When you’re fundraising in athletics, you have to strike while the iron’s hot,” said athletic director Steve Kirkham. “That’s pretty much what we’re doing.”

“Basketball, whether you agree with it or not, is the moving force.”

The historic seasons had an impact on the anonymous donor, said Kelly.

“I think for donors, they look at that,” he said. “[This donor] really wanted to step up and make an impact, and wants to get them to the next level.”

“It’s unprecedented,” Kelly said. “500 donors would be significant.”

Kelly said that students, especially those who attend away games as fans, are a potential source for the challenge. He wants to involve students by asking them to take photos of themselves after donating and post them to social media using #500for50K.

Kirkham said that the donation, if accomplished, would allow the athletic department to spend the funding they receive in other programs.

The money could help two basketball programs that overachieved with their operating budget. Based on Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act reports given to the U.S. Department of Education from schools, UCCS was one of the less-funded programs to make the NCAA tournament from the south-central region.

Of the eight teams from the south-central region that made the NCAA tournament, the men’s basketball team had the lowest reported operating budget at $316,926. The two other RMAC teams, Metro and Mines, and the top seed in the region, Tarleton State (which defeated UCCS) averaged a budget of $643,571.

On the women’s side, UCCS had the second lowest reported budget at $318,762. The team that beat UCCS, West Texas A&M, had a $737,987 budget. Colorado Mesa, Christian and CSUPueblo, the other RMAC teams that qualified, averaged a $348,659 budget.

Another aspect for the challenge is the Ent Mountain Lion Booster Club, whose goal is to support UCCS athletics. Kelly explained the boosters can donate at a higher level than students and get the information out to their peers.

The club currently has 60 members, a number Kelly wants to double or triple as the system is revamped with different levels of donors and different perks for becoming a member. The updated system will be up over the summer and kicked-off in the fall.

Currently, Ent matches any qualifying donation made, up to $50,000 annually.

Kelly wants the challenge to help spur support to be “broad based and develop a culture of support for athletic programs.”

Donations can be made at gomountainlions.com/challenge. Updates on the progress of the challenge will be made through the social media for both teams, as well as the athletic department.