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Virginia Athletics Announces "All In For Excellence" Fundraising Initiative

Feb. 17, 2015

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM Danielle Collins
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Danielle Collins captured the 2014 NCAA Women's Singles championship.
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The Virginia men's basketball team won both the ACC regular season title and tournament championship in 2014.
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The UVa men's soccer team won the seventh NCAA Championship in the program's history in 2014.
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The University of Virginia athletics department has announced the "All In For Excellence" fundraising initiative in support of student-athlete benefits that are now permissible for the 65 institutions that are members of the autonomy group, also referred to as the "Power Five." This multi-phase effort is designed to elevate overall fundraising levels to meet the new realities of recently passed NCAA legislation while positioning UVa to maintain a nationally-competitive athletics department.

The focus of the first phase of the "All In For Excellence" initiative is to increase annual contribution levels to $22.5 million in 2015 from the original goal of $16.17 across several categories. The increased funding includes support for three primary areas in addition to the Virginia Athletics Foundation's annual goal: the full cost of attendance as part of scholarships ($1.33 million), scholarship endowments ($4 million), and operational support ($1 million).

"We're committed to funding the full cost of attendance, multi-year scholarships and all initiatives designed to benefit student-athletes during their time at the University of Virginia," Director of Athletics Craig Littlepage said. "The measures passed by the autonomy group, which included favorable votes by UVa, come with added expenses. Our donors have long been an integral part of our success and we will need their help on this initiative. It's important that we're able to fund these programs designed to enhance the student-athlete experience so each of our 25 sports programs is in a position to attract top prospects."

On August 7, 2014, the NCAA granted autonomy to members of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC to create their own legislation. The first meeting of the autonomy group was held on January 17 outside Washington, DC. Several new measures were passed that have expense implications to the athletics department, including: the ability to include the full cost of attendance as part of student-athlete scholarships, the ability to offer multi-year scholarships while preventing schools from discontinuing scholarships based on athletic performance, and permitting athletics departments to use the NCAA's Special Assistance Fund allocations to purchase loss-of-value insurance to borrow against potential future earnings. Furthermore, the NCAA adopted new legislation effective August 1, 2014 that permits student-athletes to receive additional meals and snacks incidental to athletics participation. The implementation of this program at Virginia will cost approximately $700,000 during the current school year.

With the move to autonomy, new legislation will likely be passed in the future that will need to be supported by additional revenues. There will be inherent challenges to fund the new measures that are passed in addition to the need to raise enough money each year to respond to normal increases in tuition, room, board and fees, as determined by the University of Virginia Board of Visitors.

This month, the Virginia Athletics Foundation (VAF) will launch its 2015 annual fundraising effort. The annual fund has traditionally provided support for scholarships, academic support for student-athletes and a portion of the operational budgets for the Olympic sports. The initial annual fund goal of $16.17 million was established last fall prior to the meeting of the autonomy group. The "All In For Excellence" initiative is designed to expand the VAF annual fund and is an enhancement to the information that will be distributed to the donor base.

"It's our goal to provide the best possible experience for UVa student-athletes as they strive to win championships and succeed academically at the University," Littlepage said. "We now need to meet the challenge to fund these programs as we work to maintain a broad-based, nationally-competitive athletics program. Many members of the autonomy group have already announced their support of these new initiatives. We truly need everyone - our coaches, student-athletes, staff, donors and fans - to be `All In For Excellence' as we strive to reach our long-term goals for the athletics department."

The Competitive Environment of Autonomy
The Virginia athletics department is in the third year of its current 10-year goal period that began in the fall of 2012 and runs through the spring of 2022. One of the goals of the department is to win 70 ACC championships and 12 NCAA championships during this time. Since the start of the first 10-year goal period in 2002, Virginia has won 63 ACC championships, the most of any school in the conference. UVa has also won nine NCAA championships since 2002, a mark that ranks third in the conference behind North Carolina (11) and Duke (10).

In addition, UVa has fared well in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup. Points in the Directors' Cup standings are awarded by a school's finish in each sport in which it competes in NCAA postseason play. Each school may count its highest finishes in 10 men's sports and 10 women's sports. Virginia finished fourth in the Directors' Cup in 2014 and is one of 14 schools to rank in the top 30 in the final standings in each year of the program's existence.

According to a NCAA 2015 Division I Financial Report, Virginia's 2013-14 budget ranked 23rd of the schools that finished in the top 25 in the 2014 Directors' Cup standings. In addition, Virginia's expenses per sport for men's sports ranked 21st of the schools that finished in the top 25 in the 2014 Directors' Cup standings, while UVa's expenses per sport for women's sports ranked 18th of the schools that finished in the top 25 in the 2014 Directors' Cup standings.

Without factoring the number of varsity sports sponsored by each institution into account, the total annual revenue for UVa athletics was above the average generated by members of the ACC, but below the average generated by members of the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC. Similarly, the athletics department's annual expenses were above the average for ACC schools, but below average expenses for members of the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC.

The Second Phase of "All In For Excellence"
The second phase of the "All in For excellence" initiative will focus on fundraising for facility projects in support of the athletics department's goal to build and maintain the highest quality facilities in the country with the purpose of attracting and developing the best student-athletes. Although facility development and fundraising is underway, a more detailed facility project list will be introduced in the summer of 2015.
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jwhite@virginia.edu

A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.

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