Jackrabbits set record for annual scholarship auction


Jordan Rusche, Copy Editor

The annual Jackrabbit Athletic Scholarship Auction, which took place May 2, has set a record for money raised despite the COVID-19 lockdown.

The event was moved to an online format due to social distancing measures, and by its end, had raised a total of $1,737,600. This money was divided between three categories: a record-$1.15 million for athletic scholarships, along with $372,000 for Feeding South Dakota and $207,000 for high-need South Dakota State University  scholarships. 

The decision to donate a portion of the profits to Feeding South Dakota and other non-athletic scholarships came as a response to the COVID-19 epidemic in an effort to help struggling SDSU students and South Dakotans. This total was also once again supported by a two-to-one match from a donor who wished to remain anonymous.

“We had high expectations going into this year’s auction, but the response from Jackrabbit Nation is nothing short of extraordinary,” SDSU Director of Athletics Justin Sell said. “To set a record for athletic scholarships and raise another half-million dollars for other important causes in our campus community and state speaks to how special our university is to so many people.”

The amount raised for Feeding South Dakota, for example, is enough to provide 1.1 million meals to those in need throughout our state.

Previously, the event was hosted in Frost Arena and included a meal in the price of a ticket. This year, to supplement the meal, auction organizers purchased more than $14,000 in gift cards from partnered local restaurants. These gift cards, along with bottles of wine from auction sponsor J. Lohr Wine and Vineyards, were delivered to those who purchased tickets in advance throughout the week leading up to the auction.

The Jackrabbit Athletic Scholarship Auction was also once again sponsored by First PREMIER Bank and Sanford Health.

This year’s regular silent auction included more than 350 items, while the premium silent auction at the end of the night featured 21 items that included Jackrabbit-themed artwork, trips, special ticket packages and fan experiences. Sell, along with Associate Athletic Director Tyler Merriam, hosted the hour-long premium auction on YouTube live. The evening had begun with bidders able to interact with each other virtually, along with Jackrabbits coaches and other special guests through video conference calls on Zoom.

“I asked our staff to get creative to provide a unique experience and they delivered in a big way,” said Sell. “I’m really proud of how we all came together for a memorable night.”