Since the hiring of new football coach Mike Leach, more than $1 million in annual giving has been pledged to the athletic fund at Washington State University, putting it on pace for a record year.
“As of Jan. 30, we have seen $1.1 million donated,” said Christopher Walker, associate director of the Cougar Athletic Fund.
Much of that has been attributed to Leach, who was hired on Dec. 6. Since Leach’s hire, more than 700 new athletic club members have made donations, and the number of total donors is approaching 5,000, Walker said.
Bill Moos, the university’s athletic director, said he hopes to see a continued increase in annual giving, which funds athletic scholarships.
“Our goal is to have our annual giving totals equal to our scholarship costs, which is right around $7 million,” Moos said.
Donations reached $2.8 million in the last year of former coach Paul Wulff’s tenure, Moos said.
In comparison, the Cougar Athletic Fund’s website says annual giving was just shy of $10 million at the University of Washington in the last fiscal year and $20.4 million at the University of Southern California.
On top of increased annual donations, WSU’s athletic department has already sold more season tickets than it has in the past four years, and has sold seats that haven’t been put in place.
“We have already sold out all of our new suites and premium seating before the construction of them even began,” Moos said. “When construction is complete, there will be 21 suites and 1,200 club seats and low seats.”
The 21 suites sold for up to $50,000, while the 1,200 club seats sold for $1,700 to $2,000. The new suites are expected to be ready for the first game of the season in September.
“We would not have sold the amount of season tickets or gotten the amount of donations if it weren’t for the Mike Leach hiring,” Moos said.
This year’s donations include only annual gifts; they do not include special donations, like a $3 million gift from Greg Rankich, CEO of Redmond-based Xtreme Consulting Group, Inc. Rankich, a 1994 alumnus, made the largest single donation in the history of Cougar athletics.
In addition, the Pac-12 television contract – the most lucrative in the history of college football – will net WSU $20 million annually.
Moos said those funds will go toward an $80 million renovation of the university’s Martin Stadium, with the project expected complete by the 2012 Apple Cup game.
“The renovation process wouldn’t have been able to start up so quickly if it wasn’t for the TV contract,” Moos said. “Nearly all of that money is invested into facilities and the infrastructure.”
Along with the Martin Stadium renovations, WSU has also approved a major athletic facility.
“Washington State has committed to build a 77,000-square-foot football complex that will contain a huge weight room, training room, locker room, meeting room, offices and training table, which we will enjoy in the near future,” Leach said.