As summer turns into fall, our focus within the Athletic Department under normal circumstances would be gearing up for fall sports. As COVID-19 is still a daily fact of life, we have put on our coaches' hats and started game-planning for the future.
While we remain unsure of what is to come for winter and spring sports, we continue to work through a multitude of scenarios and cost-saving measures to operate as efficiently as we possibly can in these unprecedented times. Despite the unknowns, we are still committed to the core of our mission, which is centered on educating and preparing our student-athletes for life after graduation. We strive to be one of the best student-centered departments in the country.
You may have read some of the devastating financial predictions of athletic departments across the country as a result of the COVID-19 impact. Although our predictions are not as dire as most programs, SUU Athletics in not immune to this negative financial impact. In anticipation of lost revenue, tough decisions have been made internally to help offset revenue shortfalls. We have decreased the operating budgets for all of our units and sports, eliminated multiple administrative staff positions, and implemented a hiring freeze on both administrative and coaching vacant positions. We have restructured our department to absorb the responsibilities of these lost positions. As we move forward, there are still many unknowns and we have several strategic plans depending on what may happen with NCAA championships, winter sports, etc. One thing that we do know, is that we need your support more than ever.
Knowing that so many people have been affected financially by this pandemic, a few donors decided to create a matching gift fund so that each dollar will go farther to help us keep our commitment to the student-athletes. Each new, lapsed or increased gift you give to the Thunderbird Scholarship Fund (TSF) and Thunderbird Elite Fund (TEF) will be matched up to $30,000. These generous donors are even willing to retroactively match gifts that were given beginning July 1st of this year. Our goal is to raise the equivalent of 16 tuition scholarships or $120,000, and have 350 total donors.
Our fundraising efforts this year have been focused on the theme, "Flying Together." We hope you will help SUU Athletics Take Flight by donating to one of these two funds. As we are taxiing to the runway, preparing for our departure, we still see many opportunities on the horizon. There will be exhilarating views and, perhaps, a bit of turbulence during the flight, but we promise that the destination will be worth it.
Buckle up-- we are about to take off!