About a month ago, just before the Utah game, I listened to Bill Moos as he formally announced the Cougar Football Project at a press conference in Bohler Gym. He laid out the plans for the press box renovation and addition of luxury suites while also expressing hope the football operations project would pass through the planning stages soon -- within the next year. He also slipped in a piece of information that's particularly relevant today.
Moos casually added that he'd secured a seven-figure donation, but wasn't ready to announce it. Over the past month or so, I'd forgotten about his not-so-subtle hint, only to be reminded of it off-and-on. Finally, the donation amount and name of the donor were announced, and the gift is the largest in Washington State Athletics history.
On Thursday, the Cougars announced a $3 million gift from Greg Rankich, the CEO and President of Kirkland-based IT consulting firm Xtreme Consulting. Rankich graduated from Washington State in 1994, and became the youngest Laureate, the designation given to those who donate $1 million or more, at WSU in 2005.
The gift does two things -- one that should be immediately clear and another that's a bit more subtle. First and foremost, it pushes the Cougar Football Project forward. With stadium renovations already underway and a football operations building planned, the athletic department is in the midst of a large-scale drive for donations.
But Rankich's gift is also a more subtle nudge to Washington State fans and alums. Thursday's announcement continues the wave of momentum and publicity that began with the hiring of Mike Leach, and serves as another reminder to fans that Washington State is working diligently to move forward and upwards.
The gift allows Moos to say "This alumnus opened his wallet in a big way; now it's time for you to open yours."
It's something Rankich hit on in his statement
"I believe in the direction Bill and his staff has taken for Cougar Athletics, and I am excited to be able to make this investment in The Cougar Football Project," said Rankich, who is the youngest individual to be recognized as a Laureate at WSU (cumulative support of $1 million or more) in 2005. "As a proud Coug, this project means a lot to me personally. I hope all Cougars out there will join me in helping to make this and other facility projects in Athletics a reality."
The momentum is still building, with over $500,000 in donations secured since Leach was hired, along with a significant amount of season tickets sold. It's also worth noting that when Moos said he had a seven-figure donation secured, he also mentioned off-hand that his team was close to securing a couple more. So perhaps this is just the beginning.