Rose Bowl appearances historically raise donations
As Oregon’s two nationally ranked football teams clash in the biggest Civil War of the game’s 104-year-history, the two not only vie for roses, but the millions of dollars in alumni donations and increased enrollment that go with them.
The national recognition and prestige that comes with a trip to Southern California for a Rose Bowl appearance in January reaps a huge windfall for the school fortunate enough to make it to the game.
“There’s absolutely no doubt there’s a direct correlation,” said Duncan McDonald, vice president of public affairs and development, about increased donations and a winning football team.
McDonald said a myth exists that if a school does well in sports, only the athletic department benefits from philanthropy. The truth, he said, is that the rising tide of a successful athletics program lifts all the University boats from the shore.
“It tends to be the rare donor who only gives to one entity,” he said.
According to information the Office of Development provided, total donations for the 1994-1995 school year were $24.4 million. But in the school year following the Ducks’ fourth Rose Bowl appearance in January 1995, donations jumped to $52.3 million.
In addition to the donations, McDonald said season ticket sales and Duck merchandise sales also significantly increase after a good season.
But McDonald stressed that the Rose Bowl doesn’t just mean donations it also provides an excellent opportunity to market the academic opportunities at the University.
“If you look at the focus of where the Rose Bowl is,” he said, “California is one of our largest recruitment areas.”
James Buch, the associate vice president of student academic affairs, said the attention from this season’s winning football team is believed to have had a small impact already. He said that in comparison to last year, inquiries about the University have increased 13 percent, and attendance at a recent open house had risen by more than 50 percent.
“There may be just a higher interest in college in general,” he said. “But I think having a successful football team has had a positive effect on the number of applicants.”
Though Buch doesn’t yet know how much impact the football season has had on admissions, he said just getting the University’s name in the national spotlight will boost admissions.
Associate Vice President of the Office of Development Kathryn Owen said it is too early to count on any possible Rose Bowl-inspired donations.
Owen said a Rose Bowl game for the Ducks would likely increase donations, but there are too many factors involved in fundraising to expect a large boost from the game.
“We don’t hang our hats on a lot of ‘ifs,'” she said, “and we don’t want to hang everything on a football game.”
Alumni Association Director of Marketing and Membership Tom Clotter said a Rose Bowl appearance would likely mean Ducks coming back to the flock.
“There’s no doubt that when UO athletics do well, our membership goes up,” he said. “Membership goes up when it’s hip to be a Duck.”
Funds from Alumni Association memberships support scholarships and recruitment programs, Clotter said.