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September 28, 2015

Colleges Step Up Efforts to Court Sports Stars as Donors

Major universities are increasingly soliciting financial support from former student-athletes who have gone on to lucrative professional careers, writes The New York Times. The effort has borne fruit in a spate of seven-figure donations from basketball, football, and baseball players to their alma maters.

Campus athletic directors are reaching out to former college players for gifts as rising salaries and lucrative endorsement deals put pro athletes in better position to give. Michigan State University has been particularly successful in courting star alumni, most recently drawing a $3.1-million donation from basketball player Draymond Green, now with the NBA's Golden State Warriors.

Star athletes' philanthropy "is becoming much more formalized and institutionalized," said Katherine Babiak, a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan. "It really is part of the athlete’s brand, their identity, their persona."