CollegiateRacingWestern State campaign to fund ski program successful

FasterSkier FasterSkierApril 30, 2005

Western State College has announced the successful completion
of an effort to privately fund its intercollegiate ski program through
2010. Alumni and friends of the college have made annual commitments
of more than $135,000 for the next five years for a total of nearly
$675,000 to ensure the program will continue.

Tom Burggraf, Executive Director of the WSC Foundation, said college
officials will “continue to work diligently to attract private
investment so an endowment of $2.5 to $3 million can permanently
replace the annual funding. That level of endowment will annually
produce a budget of $125,000 to $150,000,” Burggraf said.

Western President Jay Helman said “everyone involved in the effort,
from administration to athletes to alumni, agrees that the proud
tradition of skiing and the transforming impact that it has on
students'lives is worth saving and securing for the future.” He called
the successful completion of this first step “incredible news.” “What
these supporters have accomplished is historic for Western and rare in
collegiate athletics at any level,” he said.

Privately funding the ski program on an annual basis is the first step
in a broader effort to attract private investment in several of the
college's intercollegiate programs. “The success of all of our
athletic programs is becoming more dependent upon private support,”
Helman said. “This represents the first step in a new dimension of
increasing those efforts. Our goal is to attract an infusion of
private investment to help us as we work to create sound, competitive
opportunities for our nearly 350 student athletes.”

The effort to increase private funding for the ski program began fully
three years ago. Over the past several years, a “comprehensive
athletic program evaluation” which studied all intercollegiate sports
at Western
identified skiing as one of the college's most costly intercollegiate
programs as well as the sport most in need of private funding. Last
fall 35 ski alumni, former coaches and others from across the country
met for a weekend-long “Ski Summit” in Denver to consider how to fund
the program.

“It was a veritable Who's Who of Western Skiing” Burggraf said. “Our
question was whether those who cared most about the program would step
up and make the kind of commitment needed to save it. The answer was a
resounding yes.” The group heard presentations from Helman and
Athletic
Director Greg Waggoner who labeled efforts to privately fund the ski
program a priority while detailing the realities of funding issues.

“We came out of the Summit with a game plan,” Waggoner said. “We have
now successfully completed the first step of that plan, on time.”
Burggraf and Waggoner said they are proud of the fact that, in nine
months time, intercollegiate skiing went from a program attracting
among the lowest external funding level to one that is now “absolutely
the highest.”

“What this tells us,” Waggoner said, “is that if former students who
competed in other sports will stand behind their program they way our
ski alumni have, we can ensure success and look forward to being highly
competitive in the long term.” Our goal is not to “maintain,” he said,
but to excel. The NCAA National Collegiate Ski Championship consists
of
teams from NCAA Division I, II and III. Waggoner pointed out that
Western is the smallest four-year public college to complete in these
championships. “Many of the programs we compete against have
significant
private funding,” he said. “Still,” Waggoner said, “Western has
produced a staggering list of individual national champions, U.S. Ski
Team members and coaches and Olympians.”

Helman pointed out that the success of the recent campaign means that
ski coaches can recruit two classes of students who can expect to be in
the program until their graduation. “Then, as it becomes evident we
are succeeding in permanently endowing the program, they can recruit
with confidence far into the future,” he said.

Source: WSC press release

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