July 3, 2014
RUSTON - A year of firsts at Louisiana Tech culminated into a record-breaking total in athletic fundraising.
The 2013-14 academic calendar saw first-year President Les Guice lead the University and first-year Athletics Director Tommy McClelland lead the athletic department. It also saw the Bulldogs and the Lady Techsters compete as first-time members of Conference USA.
Those factors and many more contributed to the record $10.9 million in total athletic gifts during the past year, nearly $6 million more than the previous year.
"It's a great time to be associated with Louisiana Tech Athletics," McClelland said. "The success we had in fundraising this past year is due to our loyal donors. We are absolutely blessed to have so many faithful supporters. Many of them increased their giving to new levels while others made first time gifts. This is the formula for the continued success of our student-athletes."
Louisiana Tech's "Quest for Excellence" capital campaign and the Louisiana Tech Athletic Club (LTAC) continue to steer the fundraising ship for the University's athletic department as the Tech faithful see the benefits of investing in the student-athletes.
"Providing for the needs of current and future student-athletes remains the focus of all of our fundraising efforts," McClelland said. "In order to attract the best and brightest student-athletes, we must continue to improve the quality of the college experience for each of them."
The start of the fiscal year brought a collective hope that the long-awaited south end zone facility at Joe Aillet Stadium would become a visible reality. Other projects also waited for the necessary funding.
"Facility improvements have and will continue to be a major focus within athletic fundraising," McClelland said. "A large part of this year's total giving was geared towards the `Quest for Excellence' capital campaign. This reflects the overall commitment to the enhancement of athletics facilities at Louisiana Tech."
Tech donors answered the call. Almost 1,300 individuals responded with financial gifts, including major gifts from Dr. Guthrie Jarrell ($2 million), Rick and Lisa Shirley ($1 million), and Roy and Happi Dowling ($450,000) as well as from LA Tech Athletics Hall of Famers Paul Millsap and Terry Bradshaw. Athletics also received two anonymous gifts totaling $5.5 million.
These gifts and others led to a banner year for Louisiana Tech Athletics. The 70,000-plus square foot south end zone project - which is the centerpiece of the "Q4E" campaign - broke ground in mid-April with an expected completion date in August of 2015. Included in the facility are 302 new premium wide, cushioned chair-back seating opportunities (club seats) which will serve as an additional revenue source.
With over 5,000 square feet of lounge space, numerous high-definition flat screen televisions, an all-inclusive dining experience and premium parking, the club seating area in the new facility will attract Tech donors and area businesses who want to watch the Bulldogs in style. In order to reserve club seats, a $2,000 annual per-seat investment (at least $1,700 of which will be tax deductible) is required in addition to a one-time construction gift of $1,000 per seat (payable over 5 years).
Seat selection priority will be given to anyone who commits by December 31, 2014 and will be based on lifetime support of Louisiana Tech Athletics. To request club seats, please contact Nate Warren at (318) 255-7950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tech student-athletes, coaches and fans also saw additional benefits from the record-setting fundraising year. The Thomas Assembly Center welcomed the installation of a high definition video display board (Paul Millsap Vision presented by Community Trust Bank) which includes a customized sound system for the TAC and a video board control room utilized for both football and basketball.
The Lady Techster Soccer Complex received upgrades to the field and stands, including the construction of a block façade retaining wall that serves both a practical and aesthetic purpose at the facility. The Lady Techster basketball locker room will also see much-needed renovations prior to the start of this season.
"We have embraced the fact that all major research universities have first-rate athletic programs," said Vice President for University Advancement Corre Stegall. "Louisiana Tech is blessed to have a great tradition in athletics; we continue to build on that. Having great academic and research success and first-rate athletics places us at the level of our national counterparts.
"It's imperative that people continue to donate and increase their donations so we can maximize our ability to support our student-athletes. I have great respect and admiration for the way athletics is being managed, and I have tremendous confidence in Tommy's ability to lead our athletic department to greater heights."
In addition to facility improvements, McClelland said the record-setting fundraising campaign allowed the athletic department to invest in other areas of its programs.
"It's very simple. Without private support, we cannot attract and retain quality coaches," McClelland said. "Every donation is important and helps support our overall mission; support student-athletes. We have to continue to expand our donor base while also increasing the giving levels of the current donors.
"I want to thank Corre Stegall, her staff and the Foundation Board for all they do to support Louisiana Tech Athletics as well as all of our student-athletes. This would not be possible without their hard work and support."
Motivated by the impressive year, McClelland and Stegall and their staffs continue to create new initiatives in order to grow the overall number of donors while also encouraging current donors to up their levels of giving.
Starting this year, LTAC will introduce the Golden Bulldog Society and the Team Tech Lifetime Giving Society. The Golden Bulldog Society is a leadership-level annual giving society, focused on formally recognizing Louisiana Tech Athletics' philanthropic leaders.
The Team Tech Lifetime Giving Society will build on the momentum of the Team Tech 100 initiative. Members will be recognized for their life-long support of Tech Athletics through philanthropic gifts.
More information about these and many more exciting initiatives will be released in the very near future.