UO Prof on athletic/academic donation tradeoffs

1/25/2011: Dennis Howard is a B-school prof in the UO sports-marketing department. His work is on the tradeoff between athletic donations and donations to the academic side. In a 2004 paper using data from UO donors, he concludes:

At least contextually, there is evidence that a winning program may significantly influence the giving behavior of alumni. Alumni appear to give significantly more to the athletics program as program success increases. Alumni academic giving may not be influenced as strongly, though there are some indications that athletic success may encourage a reallocation of donors’ institutional contributions with a discernable shift toward athletics.

Both alumni and non-alumni show an increasing preference toward directing their gifts to the intercollegiate athletics department-at the expense of the donations to academic programs. Sperber’s (2000) assertion that giving to athletics undermines academic giving is strongly supported.

The Chronicle had more on Howard’s research in 2007, here. And a new paper mentioned today in the Chronicle, co-authored with Jeff Stinson concludes:

Colleges that spend more time coordinating their athletic and academic fund-raising efforts can see big payoffs for their overall institution—in some cases, adding hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in donations, new research suggests.

So why aren’t more academic and athletics fund raisers working together? It’s pretty simple, Stinson says: Athletics wants to protect its dollars. Years ago, he remembers one athletic department putting in its own donor-management system that purposely wouldn’t work with the university’s. “They don’t want to share information,” he says.

The UO Development Office and the Duck Athletic Fund are prime examples, and from what I can tell our new VP for Development Mike Andreasen has not made any progress on changing this. Why would the AD let him even try? Because President Lariviere told him to? Dream on.

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