The Virginia Tech Fan Base Has a Decision to Make

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This morning, Virginia Tech announced a new $400 million Reach for Excellence campaign for the athletic department that is based on five pillars: the football program, Cassell Coliseum renovations, the Drive for 25, the scholarship endowment, and all other sports.  This article is going to focus on the football side of things and how I think the fan base needs to respond for the athletic department and football program to truly match their potential.

Rather than sitting around and doing what has become a bad habit over the years – talking about what the Hokie Club and the powers that be at Virginia Tech haven’t done – let’s talk about what they have done.

In 2016, when the Drive for 25 was first announced, it was pointed out that as of 2014 only 4% of Tech graduates were members of the Hokie Club.  The actual number was less than that, because some people who donate aren’t Tech grads.  The graphic below was a big part of the narrative in late 2016/early 2017, but it was forgotten as time went on.

By 2017-18, that percentage had risen to 5.6%.

The latest graphics from Virginia Tech show how that number has continued to steadily increased through time.

Hokie Club membership now stands at 7.66% of living alumni, which is the fourth-highest percentage in the ACC, behind Clemson, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech.  Overall Hokie Club membership has nearly doubled since the launch of the Drive for 25 campaign, so it’s not like the Hokie Club and the powers that be have been sitting around doing nothing.  They have steadily grown the donor base, and even if many of those new donors are joining at the lowest level (say $100 per year), as time goes by and those people accumulate more wealth, a $100 donation could easily grow into a $10,000 donation or even more.

In a way, I think we as a fan base (and I include myself in this) have grown to be pre-conditioned to complain.  When something positive is announced, we tend to nitpick it until we find something that we can construe as negative, as if the perfect solution to everything can be found.  If it’s not exactly like we want it, we criticize it, the negative vibes build up, and the negative reactions are even greater for the next announcement.  It’s a big snowball rolling downhill.  Negativity breeds negativity.  It’s common for fans to say the Hokie Club has done nothing, but the numbers show that they clearly have done something.

(Ivan Morozov)

That has to end.  If that sounds like I’m calling you out, I am, but don’t take it as disrespect.  I’m calling myself out, too, and if I stray from what I’m about to say I want you to call me out on it.  It’s time to forget about missed opportunities from yesteryear and what Virginia Tech Athletics and the Hokie Club have or haven’t done in the past and focus on what they are trying to do in the future.  What’s the point of complaining about the past?  It doesn’t help anybody going forward, and all it does is create more of those negative vibes.  I’m not telling you how you should feel, but I am saying that it’s very important that the fan base pull together and buy in to the plan announced this morning.

The only way to have success is to move forward united and together.  I remember back in the day when it was common for Virginia Tech fans to say that Hokie fans were the best in the country.  In terms of traveling to road games and bowl games, jumping to Enter Sandman and making Lane Stadium a great home field atmosphere, you could hardly argue with them.  Now the fan base has a new challenge, and I hope we collectively accept it.

When Clemson asked their fan base to buy in, they did.  Over 18% of Clemson’s living alums donate to their athletic department, and it’s that financial windfall that allowed Dabo Swinney to hire the best coaches in the country, assemble an army of staff members for recruiting and player development, upgrade their facilities to the top level, etc.  Dabo wasn’t an overnight success.  It was only nine years ago that the Tigers lost to West Virginia 70-33 in the Orange Bowl, and that came a year after Swinney went 6-7 during the 2010 season.  He wasn’t a great coach until his program began receiving great amounts of money.

In 2010, Clemson reported $14.9 million in donations, and the next year that number dropped to $14.1 million.  Now they pull in over $40 million each year.

(Source: USAToday.com)

Virginia Tech was at $16.1 million in 2010, which was over $1 million more than Clemson. However, in Fiscal Year 2019, that number was at $18.9 million…about $25 million less than the Tigers.  That’s how much things have changed over the last 10 years, and that’s the main reason both football programs have gone in opposite directions.

All the information is there.  We know how the big programs find success.  We know how much money they spend, and we know it’s a lot more than Virginia Tech.  We know that, for example, schools in North Carolina can count out-of-state student-athletes as in-state students, which saves them a lot of money in scholarship bills, money that they can then divert to other areas of their programs that are in need.  We know that UNC has $240 million in athletic scholarship endowments, compared to Virginia Tech’s $70 million endowment, and that itself is a significant disadvantage.

In short, we know what we need to do to move forward, and that’s make a financial commitment, just like we did a little over 20 years ago when the program was at a similar crossroads.  Here’s a quick history lesson for those of you who don’t go back this far or may have forgotten.

Back in late 2000, Frank Beamer nearly left for UNC, and he was going to take his entire coaching staff with him.  Yes, Frank Beamer and Bud Foster almost wore Baby Blue.  Can you imagine?  It almost happened.  Ultimately he decided to stay, and shortly after that announcement was made, Virginia Tech’s coaching staff received raises and became the third-highest paid coaching staff in the country.  The Hokies were able to retain elite assistant coaches like Bud Foster and Jim Cavanaugh because of the monetary investment into the football program.  Can you imagine the history of Virginia Tech football if Bud Foster had been poached?  Can you imagine a world where players like Bryan Randall, Xavier Adibi and Tyrod Taylor didn’t play for Virginia Tech, but instead went to North Carolina?  That may not have happened if Virginia Tech didn’t dedicate the financial resources to prevent big programs from hiring away Jim Cavanaugh, the Hokies’ ace recruiter.

Jim Cavanaugh and the rest of the Virginia Tech coaching staff almost wound up in Chapel Hill in late 2000. (Virginia Tech Athletics)

There’s a false narrative that has permeated the fan base over the years that Virginia Tech football, at its peak, achieved more with less.  That’s not true.  With the third-highest paid coaching staff in the country, Tech could afford to keep elite coaches like Foster and Cavanaugh (and Beamer himself), not to mention strength and conditioning coach Mike Gentry, and at the time the Merryman Center was one of the newest and most modern facilities in the country.

Virginia Tech dedicated more resources to the football program than their competition, and the results on the field followed.  As great a head coach as Frank Beamer was, he’d be the first to tell you that having people like Foster, Cavanaugh and Gentry made a world of difference.  The main difference between the program now and then is that now the Hokies couldn’t afford to hire those three guys if they were on the open market these days.  Football has always been a bidding war to a certain extent…only now the amounts of money are much larger, especially in the SEC and Big Ten.

Virginia Tech’s announcement this morning of the Football Enhancement Fund is not new to your ears, if you’re a TSL Pass subscriber.  We’ve been talking about it for the better part of a year.  It was supposed to be announced the week of the Spring Game last year, but COVID shot that down.  However, the Hokies have been able to improve and fine tune the plan over the last year, and basically it’s not any different than the demands that most head coaches make when they take a new job these days.  These next five points are a direct copy and paste from Virginia Tech’s Reach For Excellence site:

  1. Recruiting: Student-athletes sign with coaches, not schools. Yet some ACC peers have three times more recruiting positions than we do. Dollar goal: $5 million
  2. Assistant coach salary pool: We need to provide competitive compensation for our coaches so that we can continue developing – and retaining – the best talent. Dollar goal: $10 million
  3. Quality control coaches: These coaches are preparing to take the next step as full-time, on-the-field coaches. Dollar goal: $5 million
  4. Student-athlete development: Our football student-athletes need dedicated support to prepare them for the real world. Dollar goal: $2 million
  5. Capital needs: We have immediate needs in our facilities. The first impression for visiting recruits must be improved. Dollar goal: $8 million

When Greg Schiano took the Rutgers job after the 2019 season, he demanded $7.7 million for his coaching/support staff, the use of a private plane for recruiting, a new football operations facility, a new indoor practice facility, infrastructure improvements, etc.  I suppose the main difference between Virginia Tech’s transition from Frank Beamer to Justin Fuente and other coaching changes these days is that Fuente did not demand those things from Whit Babcock when he was hired.  He’s probably kicking himself that he didn’t, because he’s now in a situation where his resources are not up to par with most of the competition, and that’s a situation that no head coach wants to find himself in.  That’s now being fixed, thanks in part probably to Fuente’s flirtation with Baylor last year.  I think that kicked the project into high gear.  For further reading on that subject, click here to read A Shot Across The Bow from January of 2020.

(Ivan Morozov)

That said, it’s important to remember that you don’t just snap your fingers and produce that type of money.  This is a long-term play, from now through 2027.  $150 million of the $400 million has already been raised, but there is still $250 million to go.  Fuente may or may not be the long-term beneficiary of the Reach For Excellence campaign, but whether he is or isn’t doesn’t matter.  Whoever is coaching Virginia Tech football needs adequate resources, whether it’s Fuente, Beamer, or a future head coach.  These days, any prospective new head coach would demand them.  If the Hokies changed head coaches tomorrow, without those resources the fan base would likely still be complaining about results five years from now.

Here’s what I wrote in A Shot Across The Bow last year, and I still believe it to be true…

“It’s not 2003 anymore, and I think some fans still believe it is.  It has to be a group effort, starting with the administration, and then the fans have to buy in.  If either of those two things fail, then we’ll be doomed to eternal mediocrity…or worse.”

The first step has to be the administration, and they took that step this morning.  They stated their financial and competitive goals, and they detailed how the extra money would be used.  Now it’s our turn, as a fan base, to buy in.

When Virginia Tech players run out of the tunnel onto Worsham Field, they reach up and touch the Hokie Stone that says: “For those who have passed, and for those yet to come, reach for excellence.”  That applies to players and coaches on gameday, offseason workouts, etc.  But to me, it’s something deeper than that.  Those words apply to the fan base as well.  How can we ask the players and coaches to reach for excellence, yet not also reach for excellence on our own behalf in terms of financial support?  These days a top football program is a combination of fans, coaches and players, but the fans are what is most important.  Players and coaches come and go, but the fans remain.

This campaign is appropriately named.  We all want the players and coaches to reach for excellence each and every day, but for them to reach their ceiling, we as a fan base must also buy in and reach for excellence.  Players and coaches compete with Clemson and North Carolina on the field, and it’s our job to compete with Clemson and North Carolina off the field in terms of financial support.  If we don’t match them off the field, or at least come close, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to match them on the field.

The torch has been passed from the administration to the fans.  The information is there.  The goals have been stated.  The challenge has been laid down.  At this point, it’s our responsibility as a fan base.  Coaches come and go.  So do players and athletic directors.  It’s the fans who provide the foundation of the program and athletic department.  We are the bedrock.  Not Whit Babcock, not Justin Fuente, or Michael Vick, or even Frank Beamer.  It is we who determine the direction we want the program to go, not anybody else.

Less than a decade ago, Clemson asked their fans to help, they did, and we see what happened.  This morning, Virginia Tech asked for the help of its fan base.  Will the fan base buy in as the Clemson fans did?  Will we buy in, or will we deflect the blame to the people who can’t succeed without our help?  How good of a football program do we, the fans, want?  The next six years will give us that answer.

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85 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. And it will all b for nawt when they start paying players, the Alabama, Michigan’s, Ohio states, Clemson will pay so much more, that 7/8ths of the NCAA cannot keep up and will have no chance.

  2. CC i 100% agree, we all need to do better with this good news. however, we have been bitching about not having ANY news from the powers that be…..and not having info is/was not going to increase donations and members of the HC significantly. now that we have this info, i think membership and money will shoot up

  3. Like the message of the article. My only question was on the Living Alumni numbers being the same in multiple years. Seems it would vary a little from year to year. Am I missing something?

  4. I have been an up and down Hokie Club donor. Always donated but amount based on circumstance. The comments here are reflective of our alumni base. Some are all in and many are not. I think I can guess the ones who donate and those who don’t just from the comments. Go to tailgate parties and listen to how they talk. Donors sound different. Ticket scalpers and freeloaders do too. You may think you are justified in the position you take and the more you talk the more obvious it is. If we want to be first class you have to belly up. An old friend, a notorious freeloader, once stated that he was really not a drinker, more of sipper. True unless you were buying. Then he was a drinker. Which are you Hokies? Get in or get off the bus.

  5. Great article Chris and thanks for saying what needed to be said. Yada yada yada to the continued naysayers to their responses to the article. No university or sports program is perfect and administrators and coaches make mistakes but the POINT is you are investing not just in NOW but the long run of the athletic program.

  6. This seems to be the story of which comes first, the chicken or the egg. Let’s have more fans kick in to the Hokie Club while we find out the answer.

  7. Great article and I agree with those who rank it amongst TSL’s best. The vision thing is there and the goals are ambitious but achievable. I am certainly going to up my donating game.

  8. Good article and I agree it’s put up or shut up time, HOWEVER, I think what lurks in the background for many fans are stupid administrative decisions like canceling the Spring game…

    hell, who cares if ANY fans attend, play the damn game and let us sit back at home and watch it on OUR conference network!

    I agree Chris that the past is past but I think dumb decisions like the Spring Game are a detriment to feeling like increased donations will be met with administrative common sense!

  9. I’m personally torn. I want the football program to be good again. I understand it takes a lot of money.

    But expecting the fans to buy our way out of this downward spiral that Fuente and the administration has made is a hard pill to swallow.

    Just not sure what to think.

    1. It’s easy. It takes money to live in this world, and also to compete effectively in it. If the administrators and coaches you dislike were fired tomorrow and replaced 2 weeks later, they would need the same (or even more) resources in order to be successful. It’s the resources that are the foundation for success. Administrators and coaches will inevitably come and go. But the fans don’t, and they are the resource wellspring. Withholding financial support is cutting your nose off to spite your face.

  10. Did everyone just conveniently forget the past year? and all the financial hits so many people have taken (losing jobs, their businesses, income, not to mention their family members)…and that we’re still living in a pandemic? This all seems so self serving – is Fuente already tired of his new multi-million dollar workout room, nutrition center, and meeting rooms?

  11. Good luck! When the school began focusing on virtue signaling rather than actual virtue, and began abandoning values and decency, they have lost all future donations and support from the three generations in my family.

    1. Based on what I’ve read about our soccer coach forcing one of our players off the team because she refused to kneel while some sort of woke unity pledge was read, I might be throwing in the towel on VT Sports completely, too. I’m just waiting to see how the lawsuit plays out. If I leave, I doubt I’ll ever watch any college team play again . The same goes for my family & I’m sure some of my friends, too.

      1. National attention is focused on the soccer play plaintiff since she is one of the few brave enough to fight the oppression of whites by the BLM dominated universities across America. See Viva Freight YouTube episode embedded below.

        I hope “chugger” loses his job for enforcing leftist bullying tactics against a woman who would not comply with woke social gesturing. I hope she shares in a significant portion of his future earnings as the result of a jury award.

        https://youtu.be/kMDN-9HoTbw

      2. I agree. Also, it appears some of the BB players took a knee prior to the NCAA tournament game. If I had known that I wouldn’t have watched the game. My dad and I are both veterans and corps alumni (‘41, ‘70) and it greatly saddens me to see what we’re teaching the younger generation about respect for the flag and anthem.

    2. I’m with you Palmetto. It sucks that the University has chosen to go that direction and I can’t see myself giving any money except maybe directly to the basketball program moving forward.

    3. I agree with the sentiment. The problem
      Is, that right now, young people are
      caught up in all this stuff. If we become known as a school who doesn’t play along (hopefully it’s a bit of a fad), we may take a hit in recruiting for it. It’s risky which I hate.

  12. I appreciate this post, Chris – but the concern is always going to be whether or not Fuente is the right person to lead this effort, in the here-and-now, for the football program. It’s a difficult pill to swallow for those of us that are ready to move on from Fuente to have him front and center in this marketing campaign, and I found his brief comments less than inspiring. If Fuente was showing us anything at all – perhaps coming off an 8 win season with a top 35 class – sign me up. But the program has been on a steady decline in on-field results and recruiting since the fall of 2018. Imagine the power of today’s press conference with a new, energetic presence in the football program that we thought might be there before Whit’s December press conference.

    I’ll happily donate my portion to the basketball side of this initiative, but I don’t have confidence that Fuente will be able to translate this fundraising boost into on-field success.

    1. And no doubt there were some Clemson fans who said pretty much the same thing about Dabo…

  13. I finally ponied up and joined the Hokie Club today. I may not be able to make it back to all that many games each season, but I can afford to give a little something each month. This is about the fans putting the program in the best possible position to succeed, whether it’s this coaching staff or 10 coaching staffs from now.

  14. One question will be whether THESE coaches are worth those pay raises or will it be about hiring new ones

  15. This is not about W’s and L’s. It should not be. It can’t be. We have to be better as a fan base. End of story. Or maybe this is and can be the beginning of a new story. Well done Chris.

    Joe (Danville), ’85

  16. That might be the best piece you’ve ever written, Chris. I hope it has its intended effect. And I hope we continue to hear this theme from you.

  17. Excellent article and spot on; over the last 10 – 15 years or so we’ve been taking a slingshot to a gunfight and expecting to slay Goliath. Now maybe we can start to win a few battles once everything kicks in.

  18. This was so on point! I think you need to read it on the Jumbotron at the UNC game for ALL HOKIES to hear!!

    1. Yep. Summarizes my feelings and what I’ve been trying to communicate since the end of last football season. Looking back does nobody any good. Especially as cloudy as the Covid year was.

  19. crossing my fingers that our state legislators can come together and do what the North Carolina legislature did to improve our competitive balance with the out of state scholarships. The rising tide raises all ships and that tide is maroon and orange!

  20. I believe this is the best article I have ever read on TSL and I have read many great articles. Thank you Chris! Time for us as fans to quit complaining about everything and get behind this initiative. My wife and I have donated quit a bit (to us at least) to athletics including a substantial donation last year. Wasn’t planning to direct this year’s giving to athletics but this changes it for me. Step up people!

  21. Well state. The one thing that I would add is that we also need our multimillion-dollar pro athlete alumni to step up and take a leadership role in this. A number of alumni will be more willing to give if they see former VT football stars showing confidence in the program by writing million dollar checks (which is easily doable if you made >$50 million in your NFL career).

  22. Well done, Chris. A difficult subject discussed with the right tone. We have a guidestar to navigate on.

  23. Well said. I continue to think renovating Cassell Coliseum in lieu of building anew is a mistake, and I think we will eventually regret reducing arena capacity. I am as bullish on the potential to increase fan interest and ticket sales as you are on raising money. I think the trend – which is not unique to Tech – of improving amenities for a small subset of fans is a mistake. But your bottom line – that we need to look forward, step up and stop griping about the past – is on point.

    1. My first reaction was that Tech should build a new basketball arena that would be the best around. But looking at the pictures of the upgrades for what they plan for Cassell, the upgrades are substantial. It will keep the Cassell home court advantage and give the upgrades everyone is seeking.

    2. This makes no sense at all. In-person attendance is dropping and will keep dropping EVERYWHERE. If anything, we will be erring by keeping TOO MANY seats even if it is downsized. Do you pay attention to what is going on? At the margin, people are deciding to stay at home and watch on their big screen. Please tell how that is going to reverse?

      1. The bourbon doesn’t smell or taste as good when you’re watching on TV at home, as opposed to being in Lane 🙂

        And it doesn’t make sense to have a three or four hour tailgate before you go in the house to turn the TV on

      2. Sir, I very much pay attention to what is going on. Virginia Tech has suffered from a combination of poor coaching hires and undesirable conference affiliation for most of the last 35 years, going back to the heyday of the Metro Conference years. There was no interest in Atlantic 10 basketball. We were not in the Big East for basketball long enough to allow interest to grow. At the beginning of the ACC years, we had one coach who could never get Tech over the hump and one who probably was not qualified to hold a major conference head coaching job. Only during the past four or five years has Tech begun to grow the program in a way that is likely to attract a growing fan base and sustain it in the manner that the Charlie Moir/Metro years did. Tech basketball is no different today than Tech football was in 1992, when Lane Stadium seated about 52,000 but only filled up when WVU, UVa or Clemson came to town and, otherwise, saw crowds typically in the mid-to-high 30,000s. People are deciding to stay at home and watch on television because the trend today is to ignore the common fan and give additional amenities to a small subset who can afford to pay for a comparative luxury experience. This is not unique to Tech. It’s a trend that began in professional sports and has trickled into the college ranks. I contend that you cannot grow and perpetuate a fan base unless you give them an opportunity to see the game. Television will never replace the game day experience. Sure, some fans will always prefer to stay at home. But if you don’t create more room for the common fan (i.e., the fan who can’t afford or justify the expense of club seats), and if you don’t add simple amenities that improve the experience for the common fan – like, for example, the bench seating with a permanent, continuous seat back found at Wake Forest’s football stadium – at some point it should be no surprise when the common fan decides to spend his money on another hobby. Because unless he grew up a Bama fan, and unless his team wins like Bama, at some point simple comfort and affordability are going to trump watching Enter Sandman and score board karaoke.

  24. Great article Chris. I truly wish every Hokie could read it. I also hope every Hokie had a chance to listen to today’s the press conference.
    It’s a Time to be Positive not being negative!
    HOKIE NATION VT NEEDS US BIG TIME!

    1. Hokies!
      I am inspired by today’s events and will be getting out the check book tonight to up my investment.

  25. Well written, and builds enthusiasm. I like the campaign!

    However, I will be surprised if there is no discussion of a football-only facility. (Not that we need one.) That was what many on the TSL boards were pushing for. That, and putting to much money into the renovation of a 60 year old Cassell.

    1. Yep, putting money into Cassell is what bothers me in this. A better investment for the future would be a new all purpose arena. I use to go to Cassell in the 1960s when I was a student at Tech, and it was a great building for that day and time. Usually, always packed with a lot of students. We need a bigger arena so more students can attend! Go big and invest in the future! If we don’t I will refuse to give any more money to Tech! The Cassell proposal is a waste of money in the long run. Can’t see investing in it, and not improving the attendance for the students!

      1. Problem is that students don’t pick up the allotted number of tickets they are given now. I remember buying individual game tickets for VT-ND several years ago, and they were in the student section because these days you can’t get more than 2,000 students to go to a basketball game.

        1. I like the renditions of the renovated Cassell. Reminds me a bit of what NC State did with Reynolds. I think they did a great job and if the Hokies can do the same and save the expense of a new arena, I am all for it.

        2. Chris, Students felt more “welcome” back in the 1960s through 1980s and they did show up!
          With about twice the size of the student body today, “if you build it they will come”!

          1. Not true. That was a different era with much less competition for students eyeballs and time.

      2. So see if you can direct your contributions to the other initiatives. The fact that you don’t like the plan for Cassell is not a reason to donate to other areas of need. Step up!

  26. Chris, I like your article and agree with most of it. The main force behind this goal will be winning bb and fb games. IF there is success then the fans will do their part. Without winning it will be a struggle but there is a goal in place and something all Hokies can shoot for so I hope we can some day say we have accomplished the mission! Go Hokies!!!!!

    1. This SHOULD NOT be an if/then for fans which was the whole point of Chris’ article, at least in my opinion. Time for the VT fan base to put up or shut up. This is not intended as a criticism or to belittle past fans who have donated and find themselves no longer being able or wanting to donate. They laid the foundation and deserve gratitude and respect. Like Jim Weaver used to say this endeavor is not a static operation. If you’re not building you’re falling behind.

    2. which comes first, “the chicken or the egg?” if we’re waiting for consistently winning football and basketball teams before ante-ing up: we’ll never even be in the game.

      this is an investment – not a bubble gum machine with one piece of gum for one quarter.

      this is a faith thing – “now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” to use a well-known spiritual parallel. (i’m no preacher, but) please note the word “now” is the initial word in that quote. we make our contributions “now.” not later. we contribute to the “things hoped for” in advance; our contributions are the “evidence” “of things not seen,” yet.

      we do and we create the environment to have wins – in personal growth (“academics, athletics [not just football and basketball], social and spiritual”) and be winners. we don’t and we die a slow, and agonizing death into mediocrity and derision.

      i’m with CC; time to quit “harsing around” and pony up. will we Reach for Excellence or … [i can’t say it, won’t say it, will die never having said it!]

      Go Hokies! We are Virginia Tech!

  27. Well starting the season off with a W would definitely help as UNC will likely be In top 10 and Heisman candidate at QB….and beat MTSU and the spiders and dook and Uva….Hell Whoop the Irish….tough call as far as how deep fans are willing to go in the pockets……i think UNC will have higher donations for basketball as Will Uva…Seems Miami has never been big spenders?? A lot of questions will be answered at the end of 21 season…

  28. The best and most impactful article I’ve read here in the almost 25 years I’ve been on TSL.

  29. Great article Chris – it has to start with the fan base and be built up. Good leadership is necessary as well, but fans need to recognize their key part.

  30. Thank you for the article Chris. To be honest, I was going to call you out in the past for being a little to hyper critical and negative on certain things, but I respect the effort and research you put in too much to have complained. This article is a nice counter to some of the past criticisms from all of us. I’m a Hokie fan on the west coast with almost no chance to attend live events and engage as much as I’d like to, but I’m going to reassess my level of donation going forward.

  31. Didn’t Clemson’s rise in donations also coincide with their performance on the field? I would say competing for championships would be a bigger driver for donations than any new marketing ploys.

      1. So with the Drive for 25 growth, it appears that the fanbase already bought in. However they have not had that return on the initial investment to really grow the donations like Clemson did. You can’t compare the donations of Tech and Clemson without stating the obvious that their success on the field is what drove most of the growth.

          1. We’ve got a million dollar (DC) coordinator IF we keep him long enough. 🙂

            Great article. And great reinforcement of what positive thinking can do. BTW, VT’s annual giving day should not be overlooked at how Hokies respond to a financial challenge..

      2. Clemson has a long and proud culture of grassroots support for athletics, esp. football, which was easily tapped by Dabo. They started IPTAY (“I pay ten a year”) in 1934. Frank Howard‘s football teams were ACC contenders from 1940-1969. And they won a Natty in 1981. But there is no reason why VT cannot exceed Clemson‘s fundraising, given our much larger population of living alumni.

  32. Chris – this is a fantastic article and captures the takeaways exceedingly well. Well done!

  33. I like this article. And Chris, you are telling how we should feel and YOU ARE RIGHT.

    This whole announcement gives us hope and that is what fund raising is based.

  34. The improvement in our numbers is very encouraging, not only for alumni buy in, but also for the athletic departments ability to get fans/alumni to respond.
    Something that is just as interesting in those numbers is what has happened at Florida St. Their numbers have tanked. Winning motivates fans to give, losing motivates fans to stop giving.

  35. I would say the world is currently preconditioned to complain about just about everything. The only way to change the course of whatever you believe in, in this case Hokie sports, is to overcome that precondition and figure out how you can help.

  36. Well – I think that about says it all. If this is going to be “a new day” for VT athletics (and, really, VT in general), we all have to recognize what we have been and what we need to be.

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