By Joel Shinofield
Over the past couple of days this video, unveiling the campaign to endow the scholarships of the Texas Men’s Swimming and Diving, has been circulating on the internet. The video is tremendous, featuring legendary coaches, athletes and moments to remind us of the special elements of our sport. While the video is great, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Behind the scenes there is significant work and planning to produce a fundraising campaign of this magnitude. We interviewed Elaine Calip, Assistant Director of Development for the Longhorn Foundation. Elaine is a former Texas swimmer and was a college assistant coach as well, so she knows our sport and our community. Elaine’s answers give us insight into the importance of endowing our programs, with lessons that can be applied to every program, not just one with the storied history of Texas.
1. Why endow now? Why endow? Can you explain the difference between an expendable gift verses an endowed gift and why an endowment may be more valuable to the future of the program?
Our goal at The University of Texas is to fully endow the remaining Men’s Swimming & Diving scholarships. Endowments not only protect the future of college swimming and diving, but they help build sustainability for the Texas Athletics Department.
The difference between expendable gifts verses endowed gifts are short-term versus long-term investments. An expendable gift is available for immediate use by the department. An endowed gift is invested in The University of Texas long term Endowment Fund to grow over time, the principle is never spent, and each year a distribution (like dividends) is made to the donors’ preferred area of interest.
Texas Athletics is focusing its efforts now because the future of swimming and diving programs (men’s or women’s) across the country is uncertain due to the changing landscape of college athletics
2. How does the broader Texas Exes/ General Alumni program dovetail with athletic fundraising?
Texas Athletics fundraising and other college units across campus live under The University Development Office’s leadership. The Texas Exes, UT’s alumni association, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit separate from the University system, but works in collaboration to advance the mission of the University. We dovetail each other through collaborative efforts around campaigns, events, and staff support.
3. Why start with Men's Swimming and Diving?
The University of Texas Men’s Swimming & Diving program is the winningest sports program at UT with 12 national championships, and 37 consecutive Big XII Championships. Their legacy of success and the alumni base it develops is incredibly special to UT. Much of that success over the last 40 years is largely contributed to the consistent excellence of Head Coach, Eddie Reese, and former Associate Head Coach, Kris Kubik. Texas Athletics not only wants to honor the program, but honor our coaching duo by naming the entire scholarship campaign after them. It is our way of thanking them and protecting their legacy.
4. Who is driving the process and how are you enlisting alumni and coaches to help?
The Longhorn Foundation, led by Amy Folan, Executive Senior Athletics Director, is the official fundraising arm of Texas Athletics. Our team is driving the scholarship campaign towards the $13M goal. We also recruited a team of Ambassadors who represent all living eras of Texas Swimming & Diving. This group of 8 letterwinners (1950s – present) are passionate advocates for swimming and diving, and positive role models of the university. Eddie, Kris, and Matt have also been incredible resources for us. They are equally as passionate about getting to our campaign goal, because they understand it will protect the history and the future generations of student-athletes.
5. You are a Texas swimming and diving alum, do you envision carrying this effort over to the women's program?
Not only do we [Longhorn Foundation] envision carrying a similar structure over to our Women’s Swimming & Diving program, but we envision all Texas programs to benefit. As an alum, you are forever connected to your program. Whether you had success, failure, or both, you will always have that time of your life as an important piece to your foundation. Student-athletes learn so much about themselves through participation in sports programs, interactions with coaches and staff, and managing their time while pursuing their degree. I am dedicating my life and career to protecting those special experiences for future generations of men and women because I valued my experiences as a Texas student-athlete. I also want my daughter and her peers to have more opportunities for success, so preserving that is very personal to me and my family.
6. What is the campaign goal?
The campaign goal of The University of Texas Eddie Reese and Kris Kubik Men’s Swimming & Diving Legacy Campaign is to raise a total of $13M. We plan to do this through a combination of currently established endowments, by identifying leaders to create new scholarship endowments, and participation in a group endowment fund. The lead gifts are massively important to the success of this campaign, but the group endowment fund will allow for all levels of participation. That fund will pool together its contributions as a group scholarship and will honor former standout coaches and student-athletes. Our first honoree is former Associate Head Coach, Kris Kubik.
7. How many living Texas S&D Alumni are out there?
The Texas Athletics’ letterwinner alumni group is managed through the T-Association, led by Co- Directors, Jill Sterkel and Ricky Brown. Our records indicate that there are approximately 490 living Men’s Swimming & Diving alumni, and 383 Women’s Swimming & Diving alumni.
8. What is your strategy for endowing? Timeline?
We currently have $1.8M raised in established endowments, and our goal is to raise the remaining $11.2M over the next 5-7 years. In order to do this, it has to be a team effort. There will be some generous donors that commit to leadership gifts ($100k and above), but the bulk of the participation will be at lower levels ($99k and less). Just like a championship meet, we need everyone to perform at their best in order to achieve the goal. Every person and every donation counts. We hope that a campaign like this will inspire meaningful gifts that really make a difference in young people’s lives.
9. Minimum threshold for endowment?
Scholarship levels for this campaign start at a $100,000 commitment payable up to 5 years. A half scholarship level is $350,000, and a full scholarship level is $775,000. There are also programmatic endowment opportunities between $25k - $99k, but those will not count towards the scholarship metrics until the endowment grows to the $100k level. For those interested in participating at any of these levels, we encourage them to discuss options with a Longhorn Foundation gift officer (contact info below). The group endowment page is another way to participate: The Longhorn Foundation
Elaine Calip, Assistant Director of Development, Major Gifts 512-471-3537 Elaine.Calip@athletics.utexas.edu
Billy Humphries, Assistant Director of Development, Annual Fund 512-471-2433 Billy.Humphries@athletics.utexas.edu
10. Obviously Eddie, Kris, Matt and now Carol have positively touched a lot of lives beyond swimmers and divers at Texas through camps, international teams, etc, are you reaching out to them as well?
Through our collaboration with CSCAA, USA Swimming, and additional national and local organizations, we want to spread the word to as many supporters as possible. Many families and community members have experienced positive memories through these coaches, and we hope to reach all of them. We also hope to open a discussion about endowing non-revenue programs across the United States higher education system. Even if you cannot contribute to our campaign, we hope that we encourage positive change to fully endow every collegiate swim and dive program.
11. For years Texas alumni have been told to give to the general athletic fund, or the annual fund for the swimming and diving program, how to do you turn that culture of annual giving to one focused on building an endowment for the program?
The Annual Fund will always exist because those contributions help support all of the Texas student-athletes (including swimmers and divers). The annual fund provides resources like performance nutrition, strength and conditioning, academic counseling and health and wellness.
For a non-revenue sport like Swimming & Diving, we believe that the culture of those wishing to participate in our scholarship campaign understand the need and benefit of endowments. Scholarship contributions have strict guidelines on how the funds can be used, and our supporters want to know that their commitments to a campaign like this will go directly to the swim and dive programs. This campaign alleviates the concern that their contributions will be “lost” into the department. Every dollar this campaign generates goes directly to Men’s Swimming & Diving Scholarship support.
12. I am sure you are hearing great stories from alumni about their experiences at Texas, any that stand out?
I love hearing stories about how much swimming and diving changed people’s lives. The consistent feedback that our gift officers receive when talking with alumni of the program, is how special their time was at UT. The appreciation for their coaches, advisors, support staff, the friendships they developed, and the life lessons that were instilled are priceless compared to their athletic success. Each student-athlete realizes this at different life phases, but all can appreciate what the sport has taught them. As stated by Eddie Reese “Swimming doesn’t make your life easy, but it makes it easier”.
13. What are the obstacles, what would you tell a coach/AD/Development officer about the value of looking past those perceived barriers?
Believe in your donors and supporters the same way you believe in your student-athletes. As in life, many perceived and real obstacles distract students, athletes, and aspiring professionals, but we need to keep focused on the goal and take it one day at a time. When someone starts a sport at a young age, they do not become an Olympian overnight. They work hard, they feed off of their teammates, they get guidance from support staff, and they participate at the best of their ability every day.
We know that this $13M goal is a big number, but if you break it down into short-term goals, and group participation, it is very achievable. For example, if every one of our 490 alumni were able to participate at $23,000 each, we could achieve our goal. $23,000 paid over 5 years is $4,600 a year or $383 per month.
I would encourage all collegiate swim and dive programs to challenge their development offices, alumni, executive staff, and constituents to support similar endeavors to help their programs. If people are worried about a return on their investment, just take a glance at the incredible people that have been shaped by swimming and diving programs like Texas. Our sport produces extraordinary people, and investing in individuals like that is priceless.