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Scholarship Endowment Key Component of All In For Excellence

Lizzy Youngling
March 19, 2015

VirginiaSports.com Release on All In For Excellence | VAF Endowment Page | Twitter: @JeffWhiteUVa | Subscribe to White's Articles

This is the second article in a three-part series focusing on the All In For Excellence fundraising initiative. Click here to read the first installment: Full Cost of Attendance to Benefit UVa Student-Athletes.

CHARLOTTESVILLE -- For Lizzy Youngling, UVa athletics' annual awards banquet at John Paul Jones Arena brought her an unexpected honor last spring.

A standout on the nationally ranked rowing team, Youngling learned she would receive one of 52 endowed scholarships awarded to UVa student-athletes for the 2014-15 academic year.

Youngling, a history major from Westport, Conn., is the 19th recipient of the Paul B. Barringer Scholarship.

"It put a new meaning on my education," she said. "I feel more connected to the school and have another reason to do well in school. I want to prove I'm worthy of the scholarship."

Athletics scholarship expenses at the University are paid for through annual gifts to the Virginia Athletics Foundation and by distributions from endowed funds.

"To date our athletics foundation has done a great job raising funds to enhance the scholarship endowment," said Craig Littlepage, Virginia's director of athletics. "With the additional expenses we will incur to fund student-athlete scholarships, such as the implementation of full cost of attendance, there will be even more focus on endowment fundraising to support our student-athletes and provide long-term stability for the Virginia athletics department."

The VAF traditionally has covered the majority of the cost of scholarships through its annual fund. The annual fund consists of yearly gifts made by donors, including alumni, former student-athletes, friends and businesses. In 2014, VAF met its annual fund goal of $15.4 million with the support of about 9,300 donors. These donations funded 81 percent of the athletics scholarship expense.

The VAF plans for tuition increases of 4-5 percent each spring, as approved by the University's Board of Visitors. So costs will continue to rise, and that's among the reasons Virginia athletics launched the first phase of its All In For Excellence fundraising initiative last month.

The remaining 19 percent of athletics scholarship expenses in 2014 were funded from endowed scholarships. An endowed scholarship enables tuition, fees, room, board, and books to be paid from distributions from the endowment gift.

The cost to endow a full out-of-state scholarship is $500,000. It's $250,000 for a full in-state scholarship. VAF's distribution rate calls for using 5 percent of the market value of the endowment to fund scholarships each year. Although this doesn't cover the cost of a full scholarship -- a $500,000 endowment distributes $25,000; the full out-of-state scholarship is more than $57,000 -- setting the contribution level too high would limit the number of donors who might consider endowing a scholarship.

With the new NCAA legislation allowing for the full athletics scholarship to include the cost of attendance, funding scholarships through annual giving and endowment will become more challenging.

"We're going to try to reach a new level of endowment and annual giving fundraising and sustain it," said Dirk Katstra, executive director of the VAF. "If we can sustain it, the projections in our financial model will work, and we'll able to fund the scholarship bill in total.

The VAF scholarship endowment is currently valued at about $68 million. An endowment of approximately $310 million would cover the scholarship costs each year. Among ACC schools, North Carolina's endowment for athletics, about $250 million, is the largest and funds a majority of its scholarship bill. At Stanford, the perennial winner of the Learfield Sports Directors' Competition, all the scholarships for student-athletes are endowed.

"With an endowment large enough to fund all scholarships or at least a majority of them, it provides a great deal of stability even with tuition increases," Katstra said, "and it also allows schools to think differently about how they're using their annual fund."

The University sponsors 25 sports, all of which receive the full scholarship funding allowed by the NCAA. The full grants-in-aid for these sports -- 316.6 in all -- are divided among approximately 650 student-athletes.

The motivation behind making a contribution to establish an endowed scholarship varies. "A lot of times it's kind of a family legacy," Katstra said. "People honor their family, or a former member or someone else they care about. I think more and more, people are understanding of the need for endowment and why it's important."

The James E. Rutrough Jr. Endowed Scholarship for Baseball was established in 2012 by Jim Rutrough to support head coach Brian O'Connor's program, which ranks among the nation's best.

"The student-athletes at UVa compete in a major conference, succeed in a challenging academic environment, and add to our reputation for excellence," Rutrough said. "No matter the sport, you encounter student-athletes who are dedicated to their school, their team and a quality education. Support for the baseball program with an endowed scholarship was an easy decision for me -- great team, outstanding coaches, and a true commitment to UVa."

Kenny Towns, a fourth-year infielder on the baseball team, is the recipient of the Rutrough Endowed Scholarship for 2014-15. The baseball program has four endowed scholarships.

With the ultimate goal of endowing all scholarships in each sport, VAF hopes these endowments provide long-lasting memories for the donors and student-athletes alike. Like Youngling, Stephanie Nauta competes on a nationally ranked team.

"For my hard work to be recognized with an endowed scholarship is an amazing privilege and I am very grateful," said Nauta, a junior on the women's tennis team.

Nauta, who's from Galveston, Texas, received the Nancy Wachtel Shrier Endowed Scholarship for 2014-15.

"I love representing Virginia both in the classroom and on the tennis court and I appreciate all the support from our fans," Nauta said. "Without them and without the donors, my dreams at UVa would never have come true."

Brian Boland is head coach of the nationally ranked men's tennis team, which divides 4.5 scholarships among its players. All of the team's scholarship funding is endowed.

"As a coach I would encourage all of our donors to consider endowing a scholarship," Boland said. "When you endow a scholarship it provides stability for the individual program you love, and you are also helping the overall athletic department. There is simply no better way to help Virginia athletics."

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Jeff White

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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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