Athletics fundraising requires team effort


Fundraising is often not left to student athletes, but in some cases it is. The Track and Field athletes, along with head coach Rod DeHaven are currently working to fundraise around $100,000 for new equipment for the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex. This includes a high jump pit, a pole vault pit, starting blocks, bleachers and a multitude of things needed to practice and host meets, DeHaven said.

“The culture is changing to where student athletes need to realize that money has to be fundraised, it just doesn’t come out of thin air,” DeHaven said.

After the Athletic Complex grand opening, the team hopes to host three meets this year, but currently does not have the equipment to do so.


Student athletes and their families are either directly or indirectly involved in the fundraising process. DeHaven said that a lot of fundraising has involved reaching out to alumni and athletic supporters, but the team has also held fundraisers that athletes who do not have family and friends involved directly could participate in. The team held fundraisers such as a car wash and a fundraiser at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Leon Costello, deputy director of athletics, said that DeHaven worked with the Track and Field specific fundraising liaison and devised how the team was going to fundraise for equipment necessary for hosting practice and indoor meets.

According to Costello, the instance that the track and field athletes are directly involved in the fundraising process for their equipment is rare.

“This is the exception, not the norm,” Costello said.

Head football coach John Stiegelmeier said that the biggest thing about fundraising for football is that players are not specifically asked to fundraise for football. Athletes on the football team are involved in events that raise funds such as golf tournaments or a donor breakfast where they eat breakfast and thank the donors of the program.

However, the fundraising for the football program falls on the staff. They raise money for the difference makers club, which supplements primarily salaries. “At the level we are competing, not a lot of athletes get involved in [fundraising].” Stiegelmeier said. “Fundraising is what we do to supplement rather than support the program.”

A 2025 Master Plan for Athletic Facilities was put in place in 2008, and outlines improvements that the athletic department wants to make to facilities and programming. According to Costello, the master plan is horizontal, so that any sport can get evaluation and have changes made at any time. For example, if a donation is made to a specific sport for additions or improvements of equipment, athletics can make the necessary changes to that program without shuffling around an entire plan or budget.

Fundraising encourages coaches to engage with alumni and former student athletes, while student involvement is mostly calling donors to thank them, Costello said.

Fundraisers held for all of athletics each year include the Jackrabbit Athletic Scholarship Auction at the end of April, a fund drive that’s held around the first of the year that supports scholarships, the Stan Marshall Golf Classic.

Each sport has a supervisor that helps with budget for travel and other expenses as well as help set up fundraising campaigns.

Day to day, the sport specific liaisons contact individuals regarding endowments. Individual sports teams can also set up fundraisers such as a golf outings through their sport specific representative, who then ensures that the dates don’t overlap with other sports fundraisers.

With the switch to Division I, fundraising efforts have improved and fundraising has increased.

The primary job of The SDSU Foundation is to prioritize and provide support for development on campus, said Keith Mahlum, vice president for development at The Foundation.

The Foundation offers direct support to fundraising efforts and Foundation employees work with the Athletic Development staff to help devise strategies and raise money.

 The Foundation works to provide support to athletic teams when needed, Mahlum said. There are a variety of athletic funds held at The Foundation, including money for building projects and endowments for scholarships. The Foundation also provides support for the Jackrabbit Club, in which members donate and fundraise money that contributes to athletic scholarships.

The Foundation works closely with fundraising for the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex and the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, Costello said.