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October 5, 2007 - Growth in sports gifts may mean fewer academic donations

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that fundraising contributions to to college sports programs are increasing at significant rates, particularly as larger shares of overall donations to colleges.  According to the Chronicle, the country's largest athletics departments and booster  clubs raised more than $1.2 billion in 2006-2007, with some athletic programs tripling their annual fundraising income in the past decade.  Between 2002 and 2007, colleges belonging to the nation's six Bowl Championship Series conferences raised more than $3.9 billion for capital expenditures alone.  However, while donations to the 119 college sports programs in the NCAA's premier football division have risen significantly, overall giving to the colleges has remained flat.  In 1998, athletics gifts accounted for 14.7 percent of all contributions; by 2003, donations reached 26 percent.  Stated Dennis Howard, a professor of business at the University of Oregon: "There is a fear among faculty members that there is a discrete amount of money that alums and non-alums are willing to commit.  The more the athletic programs gets, the less there is to support the academic programs."