Ticket-seeking University of Tennessee donors lose option

To be considered, gifts cannot be designated, must go to new fund

Donors to specific University of Tennessee academic programs no longer will qualify for season tickets to athletic events under a policy that takes effect in the 2010-11 season.

In order to be considered for season tickets and parking passes, all donors - to academics and athletics alike - will need to contribute to the new Tennessee Fund, which will be overseen by the athletic department.

Gifts may be made to academics through the Tennessee Fund, but donors won't be able to designate those donations toward specific academic programs, UT said. Instead, campus leadership will allocate academic donations.

The athletic department is pledging an additional $2.875 million per year, on average, in "direct cash support" to UT - in addition to the $1.375 million for nonathletic scholarships and $1.125 million for parking garage debt service already given - to assure academic funding doesn't suffer. That's a total of more than $50 million over the next decade.

"The (additional) contribution is intended to replace potentially lost gifts from donors who had contributed to academics to receive ticket and parking benefits," according to a letter that will be sent to donors.

If donors want to designate gifts to specific academic programs, they will need to donate directly to academic departments and won't be eligible for athletic tickets.

Starting with the 2010-11 sports seasons, the athletic department "will begin assigning all athletic benefits (season tickets, away-game tickets and parking)," UT stated.

About 2,500 nonathletic donors receive athletic benefits. That's about 5 percent of the 45,000 donors who give to the university, according to a UT fact sheet.

The new Tennessee Fund will include the Volunteer Athletics & Scholarship Fund and Lady Vol Boost-Her Club. UT said it created the new fund to "consolidate and streamline the athletic benefit program, ensure equity in the program, and eliminate any confusion for donors regarding tax deductibility of their gifts."

The merger will add an additional 3,000 parking passes and 35 percent more football tickets for away games, UT said.

Contribution levels entitling donors to purchase tickets will not change, and all existing ticket priorities will be maintained, although parking priorities for donors will be reassigned annually, based on the points they've accumulated, UT said.

The university says about 16,000 tickets and about 35 percent of parking and away-game tickets go to donors who give at least $500 in a given year to nonathletic programs.

"Over the past few years, it has become more and more apparent that maintaining two separate football and men's basketball priority programs was not only inefficient in terms of resources and staff allocation, but has also created benefit differences and confusion to donors," UT Interim President Jan Simek said in a statement.

"Tennessee has historically had a unique partnership between academics and athletics - especially as it relates to our donors' ability to have athletic benefits for academic donations," Simek stated. "We feel this will improve service and fairness for all donors while allowing the university to continue its unique tradition of using athletic benefits to reward general university support."

Chloe White may be reached at 865-342-6341.

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Comments » 25

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

Wow, I know there is nothing like being at the game, but this makes the front row seat in my living room even better.

Couchdummy writes:

Mike Hamilton is rapidly designating UT season tickets for the "elite only." And I thought Dickey didnt care for the common fan!!!!! Darn shame.

teampenny#658108 writes:

Our football program is not one of the top three money producing programs in the SEC. Maybe this will help make up some ground-i do not know. You would think selling the most tickets would be enough. Go Vols

golfballs03 writes:

This is terrible

pabashia#208095 writes:

I'm very close to throwing in the towel on UT Athletics. I've given plenty of money, but it seems that the University is only interested in furthering the coffers of the Athletics department and gaining control of the purse strings for academic donations. Many people like giving targeted donations because then they know exactly where their money goes. With the new system, it'll be open season on political wrangling for the funds.

give_him_6 writes:

Not to sure bout this one.

TATER5887 writes:

in response to pabashia#208095:

I'm very close to throwing in the towel on UT Athletics. I've given plenty of money, but it seems that the University is only interested in furthering the coffers of the Athletics department and gaining control of the purse strings for academic donations. Many people like giving targeted donations because then they know exactly where their money goes. With the new system, it'll be open season on political wrangling for the funds.

I agree with you here. Why would i wnt to give my donations out to a college if it were going to be put in a bowl and up for grabs as to who the hell it will be spent on. I dont think its a good idea and i see them losing some strong support b/c of this

iowavol writes:

I hear all of you on the down side of this issue. I gave up my season tickets 3 years ago after donating for 21 years for one reason - it was getting just too dang expensive for me to go to a 4 or 5 games a yea. I used to be able to get a nice price on EBAY for the non-premier games but since the TITANS, it's hard to get face value for them.

88volgrad writes:

You can direct your donation to go to any program you choose, you just will not be able to buy tickets, and the donation now will be 100% deductible.

rocky_topper writes:

in response to utwhinesalot:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

holding out your donation will not have any impact whatsoever. there will be people in line who are in lower-donating rankings that will be glad to take them, OR UT will just offer other package seatings for family, birthday parties, etc. but there is no way they will ever revert back.

they well-know how to market their athletics, and i'm certain they have covered all angles for backlash regarding this move.

VOLinATL writes:

One bright note: Maybe this will eventually price out many of the idiot rednecks who come to the games.

JayTee writes:

If you have to donate directly to the VASF in order to get season tickets isn't this just "Ticket Scalping" by the Ahletic Department?

We need to send Hamilton packing over to Clemson where he belongs.

TommyJack writes:

in response to VOLinATL:

One bright note: Maybe this will eventually price out many of the idiot rednecks who come to the games.

Wow, atlvol. Sort of like economic ethnic cleansing?

richvol writes:

UT is treading on thin ice here. There were another 450,000 jobs lost in America in June. The price of tickets coupled with the neverending push for more and more money from the fans that support the school will backfire one day. There are those who will pay whatever to be a part of a great football organization but the well is not bottomless. Additionally,we saw what happened last year to attendance when UT slumped into a losing season...fans can be very fickle.

WereInTrouble writes:

Only a fool would donate, anyway, in order to buy tickets. If all the idiots refused to give up any 'Tribute' or 'Blackmail' money then the Fillup Foolmer mobster leftovers would really squirm.

stevefrommemphis writes:

Well, they are going to lose my $1000 gift per year which was going directly to the UT libraries. I do realize that I can still give to any academic program I wish directly. But I choose not to do so, because my feelings about UT are not positive enough to encourage me to give unless I receive the option to purchase sports tickets a reward for my contribution. If they think I'm going to let Mike Shamilton dictate where my contribution goes, they're crazy. I consider being forced to purchase tickets to Ohio, Western Kentucky, and Memphis as part of my season tickets as my contribution to the athletic department. Anything else I give, I decide where it goes.

Key question: How does the $2.875 million in cash transfers from athletics to academics compare to what the ticket-receiving non-athletic donors were contributing before? My guess is that part of what is driving this is having to pay debt service on the remake of Neyland Stadium into the Taj Mahal in the middle of the Great Recession. The words “on average” make me think that UTAD will be using the new money from academic contributions to supplement debt service coverage as necessary.

I don't need the football tickets. NCAA Divison I athletics are the out of control tail wagging the dog at most of these universities. Some days the Knoxville News Sentinel sports page reads more like a Vol Crime Log than anything. I'll spend Saturdays reading a good book, hiking in the mountains, or kayaking on the river, and give my money to the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, or some other useful charity.

I never thought UT was much of a school. Going there as an undergraduate saved me a lot of money, and I have been contributing to the academic program as a payback. The only nostalgic feelings I have about my days at UT are annoying, because during the Jack Reese "anybody who gets their immunizations can get in," years, my entire 3.5 years were made miserable by having to deal with idiot "students" who weren't there to learn. I would have probably been better off paying extra and going to a Sewanee or Rhodes type school.

SEAL_9821 writes:

in response to stevefrommemphis:

Well, they are going to lose my $1000 gift per year which was going directly to the UT libraries. I do realize that I can still give to any academic program I wish directly. But I choose not to do so, because my feelings about UT are not positive enough to encourage me to give unless I receive the option to purchase sports tickets a reward for my contribution. If they think I'm going to let Mike Shamilton dictate where my contribution goes, they're crazy. I consider being forced to purchase tickets to Ohio, Western Kentucky, and Memphis as part of my season tickets as my contribution to the athletic department. Anything else I give, I decide where it goes.

Key question: How does the $2.875 million in cash transfers from athletics to academics compare to what the ticket-receiving non-athletic donors were contributing before? My guess is that part of what is driving this is having to pay debt service on the remake of Neyland Stadium into the Taj Mahal in the middle of the Great Recession. The words “on average” make me think that UTAD will be using the new money from academic contributions to supplement debt service coverage as necessary.

I don't need the football tickets. NCAA Divison I athletics are the out of control tail wagging the dog at most of these universities. Some days the Knoxville News Sentinel sports page reads more like a Vol Crime Log than anything. I'll spend Saturdays reading a good book, hiking in the mountains, or kayaking on the river, and give my money to the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, or some other useful charity.

I never thought UT was much of a school. Going there as an undergraduate saved me a lot of money, and I have been contributing to the academic program as a payback. The only nostalgic feelings I have about my days at UT are annoying, because during the Jack Reese "anybody who gets their immunizations can get in," years, my entire 3.5 years were made miserable by having to deal with idiot "students" who weren't there to learn. I would have probably been better off paying extra and going to a Sewanee or Rhodes type school.

I see your point and you are dead on about most of this is in part to pay for our newly renovated stadium. On the other hand, don't down play the university and the programs for some idiotic decision our AD has made. If you don't want to donate then don't. Go stand at the front gates 30min before a game and get tickets for almost face value in the lower section. We may be better off without you there supporting the big orange with your kind of attitude anyway.

Raynoch writes:

in response to utwhinesalot:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So you are saying UT is "catching up" with UF, but you believe donations should go to where the donor directs it? Catching up with UF's bad policies?

Looks like you are firmly riding the fence on this one.

chargervol writes:

in response to utwhinesalot:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So far, so good, you are actually talking on subject. Without jabs and irritating remarks. I hope this lasts. I hate when everybody goes into name-calling mode. It makes alot of persons on this board up in arms, for us or against us. GO VOLS!!!

toto_cold writes:

in response to stevefrommemphis:

Well, they are going to lose my $1000 gift per year which was going directly to the UT libraries. I do realize that I can still give to any academic program I wish directly. But I choose not to do so, because my feelings about UT are not positive enough to encourage me to give unless I receive the option to purchase sports tickets a reward for my contribution. If they think I'm going to let Mike Shamilton dictate where my contribution goes, they're crazy. I consider being forced to purchase tickets to Ohio, Western Kentucky, and Memphis as part of my season tickets as my contribution to the athletic department. Anything else I give, I decide where it goes.

Key question: How does the $2.875 million in cash transfers from athletics to academics compare to what the ticket-receiving non-athletic donors were contributing before? My guess is that part of what is driving this is having to pay debt service on the remake of Neyland Stadium into the Taj Mahal in the middle of the Great Recession. The words “on average” make me think that UTAD will be using the new money from academic contributions to supplement debt service coverage as necessary.

I don't need the football tickets. NCAA Divison I athletics are the out of control tail wagging the dog at most of these universities. Some days the Knoxville News Sentinel sports page reads more like a Vol Crime Log than anything. I'll spend Saturdays reading a good book, hiking in the mountains, or kayaking on the river, and give my money to the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, or some other useful charity.

I never thought UT was much of a school. Going there as an undergraduate saved me a lot of money, and I have been contributing to the academic program as a payback. The only nostalgic feelings I have about my days at UT are annoying, because during the Jack Reese "anybody who gets their immunizations can get in," years, my entire 3.5 years were made miserable by having to deal with idiot "students" who weren't there to learn. I would have probably been better off paying extra and going to a Sewanee or Rhodes type school.

While you were donating to the library you should have tried useing the dictionaries in it to learn the definition of donation. A donation is the giving of something without expecting or receiving anything in return. You are just attempting to get atheletic department benefits without giving the atheletic department anything. Something for nothing one of the true basis of the Democratic Party. You probably got picked on by the football players so now your mad and want to bash the whole University. Why don't you and the rest of your Socialist/Democrat buddies do the rest of us a favor move to France or Canada. Maybe if we're lucky we want have to see or hear you idiots at games any more. P.S. Thanks Mike Hamilton get rid of all the losers.

stevefrommemphis writes:

in response to toto_cold:

While you were donating to the library you should have tried useing the dictionaries in it to learn the definition of donation. A donation is the giving of something without expecting or receiving anything in return. You are just attempting to get atheletic department benefits without giving the atheletic department anything. Something for nothing one of the true basis of the Democratic Party. You probably got picked on by the football players so now your mad and want to bash the whole University. Why don't you and the rest of your Socialist/Democrat buddies do the rest of us a favor move to France or Canada. Maybe if we're lucky we want have to see or hear you idiots at games any more. P.S. Thanks Mike Hamilton get rid of all the losers.

LOL. This is the first time I've ever been called a Socialist or a Democrat or a loser. I'm a Libertarian, about as far as possible away on the spectrum. But, yes, I must admit that I am trying to get athletic department benefits without giving anything to the athletic department. But the gig is up, so beginning next year I'm not going to [donate / pay in return for benefits / contribute] anything to anybody at UT, and I won't be forced to buy Shamilton's tickets to lousy Ohio/Western Ky/ Memphis games as part of a season ticket package. If I want to go to the Bama or Florida game next year, I'll buy a ticket on the street. The rest of the time, I'll stay home and read a good book or do something else productive. Apparently, UT has decided that dropping folks like me is good business policy. I think they're wrong in the long run, but time will tell. Meanwhile, I'll give my donations to something like the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation.

By the way "useing" is spelled "using" and "atheletic" is spelled "athletic"

bmaples writes:

Looks like toto_cold got toto_told.

rocky_topper writes:

in response to toto_cold:

While you were donating to the library you should have tried useing the dictionaries in it to learn the definition of donation. A donation is the giving of something without expecting or receiving anything in return. You are just attempting to get atheletic department benefits without giving the atheletic department anything. Something for nothing one of the true basis of the Democratic Party. You probably got picked on by the football players so now your mad and want to bash the whole University. Why don't you and the rest of your Socialist/Democrat buddies do the rest of us a favor move to France or Canada. Maybe if we're lucky we want have to see or hear you idiots at games any more. P.S. Thanks Mike Hamilton get rid of all the losers.

I agree Toto. Great post!

Personally, I think it is a great idea and am all for it. The monies taken in from the athletics (football mainly) is what keeps the entire University going--it isn't these small academic donations. I would hate to status of the academic programs, the buildings, jobs etc on The Hill if it weren't for the football revenues.

It is great business sense to just let those who are mad drop their $500.00 to $1000.00 donations so that athletic donors can get the tickets and in doing so contribute their average $2500.00-$10000.00 for them!

From reading some of these posts, I am guessing most of these people weren't really athletic fanatics and could care less if they even attended a game or not.

Futurecoach16 writes:

This is the problem today. Many people don't understand that these kids on the football field are STUDENT-athletes. Have any of you seen some of the buildings on campus? Ayres Hall doesn't have good air conditioning, and many of the desks are from the 60s. Many of the Smartboards in Humanities don't work. The College of Communication and Information has about 6 or 7 professors retiring and can only hire 3. (Estimated numbers, but they do not have the money to hire as many as they are losing.) The music building is not big enough for the Pride of the Southland, one of the biggest contributors to gameday. All these places need more money, and when donors to these departments cannot receive a little bit of a thank you from the school, they're going to lose even more money. I wish that all you donors to only the athletic department would wake up and see what is happening around the whole university. Maybe you'll realize it when you start dishing out thousands and thousands of dollars to inadequate departments while your kids are in school. I am glad to see that many people are giving to academic programs. I, as UT student/senior, thank you.

82cat writes:

Why should someone who makes a donation to a specific academic program get season ticket priority?

Whats all the fuss? Anybody that wishes to donate to something other than athletics there is nothing in this policy that changes that at all. You can still donate all you want.

Also when you donate or give something that means you do it not expecting anything in return.

When you donate or give something expecting something in return you are basically buying that item or in this case tickets.

So in summary nothing has changed, people who want to pay (remember if you expect something in return you are not giving or donating) can stil pay for the right to buy tickets they will just have to go through the athletic departments process for that right.

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