Donations to Tiger fund reach record high
By Dan Wolken
July 1, 2007
With anticipation for the 2007-08 University of Memphis men's basketball season at a fever pitch, the school has collected a record $5.6 million in Tiger Scholarship Fund donations for the current fiscal year.
The donations, which fund athletic scholarships for all varsity sports, are based primarily on the high demand for basketball season tickets in the club level and lower level, which can only be purchased with a TSF donation.
The $5.6 million represents a 12 percent increase over TSF donations from the 2005-06 fiscal year. The TSF office also generated $2 million in gift-in-kind donations for the year.
"This is a tribute to our fans, supporters, the Memphis coaches and the staff of the Tiger Scholarship Fund," athletic director R.C. Johnson said in a written statement. "When we arrived at the university, we had donations of less than $1 million annually. We thought that $5 million was an achievable mark for our fund raising efforts. Now we have surpassed that figure for the second consecutive year but must continue to raise the bar in order to keep pace with the rising cost of higher education."
Associate athletic director Bill Lansden, who oversees the TSF donations, said the increase comes from both new donors and longtime donors who have increased their giving.
Out of 3,200 TSF accounts -- which could represent more donors, since several people can comprise one joint account -- roughly 500 of them made their first donations within the past year.
Plus, Lansden said, 435 existing accounts upgraded at least one donor level to secure a better seat location at FedExForum. Though some upper-level seats can be purchased without a donation, the best upper-level season tickets require donations ranging from $100 to $1,000.
All season tickets in the lower levels require donations from $2,500 to $25,000.
"It's because of John (Calipari) and the success and the popularity of our team," Lansden said. "But I will say, the guys in our office have done a great job. This staff is the reason we're bringing this money in. We've done a good job of preparing for success. These guys have been very aggressive over the last 18 months, of going out and finding new people. I want to give John all the credit in the world, but these six people in here have done an outstanding job."
Lansden said the $5.6 million in unrestricted donations represents the most for a Conference USA school.
-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365
Tigers cash in
The following shows the approximate dollar amounts (in millions) raised by the Tiger Scholarship Fund (formerly the Tiger Clubs) each year since 1993:
Year / $$$
1993 / 2.3
1994 / 2.1
1995 / 2.1
1996 / 1.8
1997 / 2.5
1998 / 2.5
1999 / 2.2
2000 / 3.1
2001 / 3.8
2002 / 4.0
2003 / 4.5
2004 / 4.6
2005 / 4.9
2006 / 5.0
2007 / 5.6