On Halloween night, while other students were out collecting candy, members of the women’s soccer team were on the road. And they weren’t happy about it.
Not only were they missing out on some campus fun, but their road trip was to the distant shores of Rhode Island, and they had to get there by bus. It’s a 14-hour ride, and being on a bus for 14 hours isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. But that’s all the team’s travel budget allowed. And that’s what Dan Cloran is trying to eliminate.
In September, the University hired Cloran as director for the annual fund as well as to develop, kick off and oversee the newly created All For One Club, a multipurpose organization that includes social events and fund-raising efforts directed specifically toward the support of athletics. The goal, says Cloran, is to give the University’s athletic teams the best chance at winning by boosting their bottom line.
“There’s a huge need in athletics right now,” says Cloran. “A lot of sports are lacking. We’ve got to increase the number of scholarships. Almost half of the coaches are part time; they need to be hired full time and paid what they deserve. We need more, better and safer travel. All of this is tied into the best use of spending money.”
Such tightly focused, athletic-specific clubs are becoming more and more common at universities around the country, he says. Notre Dame recently began one. Marquette started one in the mid-1990s. And it’s something Xavier’s needed for a while, adds Mike Bobinski, director for athletics. In 1995, the University increased its competition level by joining the Atlantic 10 Conference, but hasn’t been able to make comparable increases in overall funding.
“In order to remain competitive in a tougher and tougher environment, it’s become necessary to look for outside resources,” says Bobinski. “There are some people who have a specific interest in the athletic programs whom we think will contribute, while at the same time not interfering with the University’s overall fund-raising programs.”
That, says Cloran, is vital. While raising funds for athletics, it can’t siphon money away from other efforts. It must raise new funds. Previously, the athletic programs received a limited amount of money from the annual fund, which replenishes budgetary dollars, finances scholarships and keeps tuition down for the University as a whole. But with the creation of the All For One Club, the two efforts are now separate.
“The annual fund will operate in conjunction with the All for One Club and allow a donor more than one avenue to contribute,” says Gary Massa, vice president for university relations. “The bottom line is, the University benefits from two simultaneous efforts to support the annual fund, both academically and athletically.”
Bobinski had a similar program at his previous employer, the University of Akron, and saw significant improvements in several sports, particularly track and field. It received better funding, and went from worst to first in its league. Similar results could be done here, he says.
“There are any number of programs that, if analyzed, have needs—scholarships, operational funds—that if funded would give our kids a better competitive experience,” he says.
Some needs are universal—recruiting, more assistant coaches—while others are sport specific. Only half of the programs have full-time head coaches. Some programs fall well short of the number of scholarships allowed. and to help make the decision of how the donations are handled, advisory boards are being established—a general one for allotment, and one for each sport for determining needs and making requests.
If the club works out as planned, says Cloran, it could create other revenue-generating avenues as well. All contributors, for instance, get invited to All for One Club events run by the Musketeer Club, the longtime booster group that holds social events and donates the proceeds to athletics.
“The All for One Club got its name through the Musketeer Club,” says Cloran. “They will continue running events and being the social arm of the All for One Club.”
And , says Cloran, with the revenue from the two efforts, athletics could soon look a lot different. “In five to 10 years, we’ll be in a different stratosphere with what we’ll be able to do for each sport.”