Virginia Tech Athletics Announces Drive for 25 Fundraising Campaign

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Virginia Tech Drive for 25

BLACKSBURG, VA – The Virginia Tech Athletics Department announced today a new fundraising campaign titled “Drive for 25,” with the department seeking to increase membership in the Virginia Tech Athletic Fund (aka the “Hokie Club”) to 25,000 members.

With current Hokie Club membership of 10,609, per the tracking page on the new Drive for 25 website announcing the program, this is an audacious program with the goal of more than doubling Hokie Club enrollment. In a press conference announcing the program, Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock noted that Hokie Club membership has been static around 11,000 members since the late 1990s.

Babcock said that Virginia Tech’s Hokie Club membership total of less than 11,000 people ranks 11th in the 15-school ACC.  He noted that Clemson, Louisville and Florida State all have just under 25,000 members in their athletic fundraising clubs.

Drive for 25 Geared Towards Fundraising for Scholarships

Babcock explained that the focus of the Drive for 25 program is to fund scholarships for Virginia Tech student athletes.

“It is about raising money, we’re not going to hide behind that,” Babcock said. “It is specifically for scholarships … it will not be used for coaches salaries, or AD salaries, no frivolous spending … it simply provides our foundation and the cornerstone of all we do.”

In the last six years, Virginia Tech’s athletics scholarship bill has risen from approximately $9 million to an estimated $14.4 million for 2016-17, and the increase in scholarship costs has no end in sight, as the cost of higher education grows and state funding of higher education decreases.

Babcock pointed out that an athletic scholarship at Virginia Tech is not a “free pass” — the athletics department pays the cost of the scholarship to the university. Virginia Tech has about 500 scholarship athletes and a total of just over 300 scholarships that it must pay for. (Many athletes are on partial scholarships.)

According to Babcock, a scholarship for an athlete who comes to Virginia Tech from in-state costs $25,329 per year, while an out-of-state scholarship costs a whopping $42,327 per year.

The Hokie Club currently doesn’t raise enough money to pay for all scholarships via donations. Of the $20 million raised by the Hokie Club in its most recent year, only $11.5 million is available for scholarships — the remaining $8.5 million was earmarked for facilities or was otherwise restricted.

The athletic department will have to pay for the remaining $2.9 million scholarship funds from an “already tight ” operating budget of approximately $80 million, per Babcock. He said that athletic budget figure ranks 10th in the ACC and 40th among “Power 65” schools.

Frank Beamer to Serve as Spokesperson for Drive for 25

Former Virginia Tech head football coach Frank Beamer has agreed to serve as the spokesperson for the Drive for 25. Beamer will speak at various functions and at many of the Hokie Club’s spring Orange and Maroon Tour events about the importance of scholarships and how those impact the lives of student-athletes.

“I know firsthand from both my experience as a student-athlete and from coaching just how important scholarships are to young people here at Virginia Tech,” Beamer said. “Scholarships change lives, and that’s why Cheryl and I have always been willing to give to help these student-athletes not just to play sports, but to get an education. Many of my former players wouldn’t have received that opportunity otherwise.

“So I’m looking forward to being a part of this campaign and feel honored to be a part of helping young men and women even though I’m retired. There is no better way to help our student-athletes than to join the Hokie Club, and I’m encouraging all of Hokie Nation to do so. I know they want to invest in what we’re building here at Virginia Tech.”

Beamer is, of course, a member of the Hokie Club himself and has given extensively to Virginia Tech over the years.

“I think you people would like for us to beat Clemson, Louisville and Florida State. I feel certain that’s the goal around here, but we’ve got to beat them in this area here.”

Minimum Gift of $25 Per Month Sought

While figures of $14.4 million and $80 million are daunting numbers, Babcock suggested that new members come in at just $25 a month, or $300 a year. If 14,000 new members came in giving just $25 a month, Tech would bring in $4.2 million more per year.

Babcock also suggested $250 per month, or $2,500 per month, or even $25,000 per month. “If you’re one of the ones who can give $25,000 a month, please call me direct on my line and I will take your call,” Babcock promised.

In addition to retaining current Hokie Club members, Hokie Club officials plan on marketing new members through mass mailing, emailing them a link to a newly created and user friendly website for the Drive for 25 initiative along with a PDF tri-fold brochure with all the details. The site allows alums and fans to contribute easily, and it also contains a facts page and an interactive chart that tracks membership during the initiative.

The site includes a video that features Beamer and the importance of the Drive for 25. Infographics explaining the Drive for 25 will be released through the athletics department’s social media platforms as well, as part of continuous education of fans on how to invest in the future of Tech’s student-athletes.

“The Drive For 25 is about young people and opportunity,” Babcock said. “It’s about competing at the highest levels, it’s as simple as that. The Drive For 25 is the single best way that you can get involved and help us continue our momentum in athletics, period.

“We will achieve this goal of 25,000 and falling short is not an option.”

For more information, please contact the Hokie Club office at 540-231-6618, or by emailing the Hokie Club at [email protected]. Visit the Drive for 25 web site by clicking below.

Drive for 25 Virginia Tech

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17 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Much as we like to complain, the reality is that only 4% of alumni give to athletics (and a similar percentage to the university academic side). That might make sense if we were turning out nothing but liberal arts majors but we turn out a lot of engineers and business folks who presumably could afford as little as $25.00 a month. Whether we have direct access to Whit or not, the only thing we can really do is go to as many games as we can and contribute back to the university through general giving or the Hokie Club. I’ve been part of the Hokie Club for over 30 years and I didn’t go to Va Tech. Think of it as what it costs to be able to either take pride in our programs or whine about them, but if you’re not part of the solution…

  2. , VT is going to 40-45k and multi-campus with now approved teaching campus in Northern Va. The university will be an international university and has to find new revenue streams to maintain top rankingsI

    Know one needs to hear any more when I went to VT yada yada. That school has transformed

    ITs about time that VT run a aggressive big time program to raise contributions.

  3. I hope Frank will make an appeal to his former players to lead by example. That would get the campaign off to a good start!

  4. I am also sending out personal notes to Hokie friends, and want to include an article that appeared in TSL within the last six months that showed how badly our alumni giving compares to other ACC schools. I know that I was shocked that Hokie Nation was way down the list. Link please.

  5. Just joined. Go get em Whit. If we can do this, we can become a top 10 program consistently in many sports. Exciting time to be a Hokie.

  6. Just sent the email with CFB’s letter to Hokie friends who are not HC members. Hope all TSL readers will do the same.

    1. I have direct access to my congressman, but it doesn’t cost me $300,000 per year. Whit’s offer of phone access didn’t come off very well.

      1. Oh, please. Your comment didn’t come off very well either. He was trying to be funny with a very important topic.

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