I'm a bit of an emotional fan. And as Oregon State was in the midst of its beatdown of WSU at CenturyLink Field back in October, I was absolutely steaming. My wife, bless her heart, knows better than to try and talk to me when the Cougs are melting down. I must have done a pretty good job throwing off the "leave me alone" vibe to the people we were with, too, because they simply whispered to her, "Is he OK?"
No. I wasn't OK. I was far from OK. After three and a half years of positively horrific football, I was ready to celebrate the return of the Cougars to relevance, as all the circumstances were seemingly pointing in their favor. Instead, the team took the equivalent of a giant dump on the 50-yard-line.
The worst part, for me, wasn't even the performance itself. It was that few people around me seemed to care that the team was playing terribly. This was Bill Moos' showcase game against a Pac-12 opponent, and the stadium was one-third empty with the other two-thirds seemingly just happy to be there. Based on what I heard from donors, the week wasn't a failure -- but the game most certainly was.
It was clear to me that there was a problem. For the first time, I realized just how apathetic our fanbase had become, and started to get a sense of just what it was going to take to shake Cougar fans out of their malaise. I figured a few wins in the second half of the year to get to a bowl game would do it, but it was becoming clear that it was going to take something bigger than I realized. And as it turned out, it was after that game that Moos himself started to wonder if Paul Wulff was the guy to do it.
Ultimately, he decided Wulff wasn't. And within 24 hours, we knew who that guy was going to be: Mike Leach.
WSU fans have always been sort of a "show me" bunch, and Moos made the ultimate, all-in, "show me" move by hiring Leach to the tune of $2.25 million a year, far more than any coach before him has earned. Heck, I remember Mike Price making a cool $135,000 when I was in school back in 1997.
In the process, he took the paddles to a flatlining fanbase, jolting our mostly dead bodies back to life. It was completely by design: "I opened my checkbook for you," Moos said. "It's time for you to open your checkbook for me."
Many already have, with $170,000 in pledged donations coming in over the first couple of days.
Are you one of them? Because I now am.
I took the plunge last week, becoming a donor to the Cougar Athletic Fund for the first time. One of the goals of the CAF is to raise enough in donations to cover the grant-in-aid scholarships of all of WSU's student-athletes so that other revenue streams can be dedicated to facilities, coaches' salaries, etc.
In the past, I've always felt like there was very little point in donating. It wasn't so much that I couldn't afford anything, it's just that what I could afford really didn't seem like it was worth the trouble. I mean, the cost for an out-of-state student-athlete to attend WSU for one year is around $33,000. Whatever drop in the bucket I could afford seemed pointless, given the enormity of the fundraising task.
But after the news of last week, I just wanted to do something. So I jumped in with what I could afford. I'm certainly no high roller; I'm a teacher for goodness sake, and I have no problem telling you it's just $10 a month for a grand total of $120 a year. It's not much, but it is, indeed, something. And if enough people just do that -- do something -- a real difference can be made.
We had 6,500 unique visitors to our site yesterday. Imagine if just 1,100 of those people who aren't currently donors did exactly what I did. That would be $132,000, which would cover approximately four out-of-state athletes for an entire year. That's not small.
People like to point out that Barack Obama shattered fundraising records in his 2008 presidential campaign not with huge donations, but with tens of thousands of little donations. Where the previous regime at WSU seemed most interested in the big fishes, this administration welcomes donors like me with open arms -- believe it or not, my small annual donation is actually on the second donor level. (I'm now a proud member of the Gray Club. I feel very special, actually.)
This is where you come in. Do something. Anything. I mean, for real -- the "Flag Waver" level starts at $50 a year, and if every alum can't afford that, we are doing something seriously wrong as a university.
Show Moos that his faith in our fanbase is warranted by becoming a donor to the Cougar Athletic Fund. Take that great feeling of today's press conference and put it into action by making a donation on the level of whatever you can afford.
You can get right to it by visiting the CAF site, but if you're still not sure exactly what direction you want to go or what this all means, one of our readers, BigWood, has put together a handy-dandy FAQ after the jump so you can make an informed decision. If you have more questions, post them in the comments and those who have been donors can clear it up.
Do I have to contribute all one lump sum, or can I break my contribution into smaller amounts?
You can contribute annually in a lump sum, but you also can set up payments to recur monthly, quarterly, etc.
Can you explain how the TPS system works?
The TPS Rank is essentially where you stand among all other members of the CAF. It's an algorithm based on how much you gave this year, how many season tickets you have and how long you've been giving (there may be other factors involved, but those are the big three).
TPS is calculated 3 times a year: Mid-fall around Bowl time, mid spring around NCAA tourney time and June 30, end of the fiscal year. All donations made throughout the year (calendar year) will count toward TPS. this upcoming year will take donations from an 18ish month year to ease with the transition-July 1 2011-December 31 2012. After that, we will go off of the calendar year to calculate TPS and benefit distribution(confusing? ha) January 1, 2013-December 31, 2013.
If I'm not a season ticket holder, but am a Gray Club level donor and buy just a single game ticket, do I get any sort of discount or priority or anything?
Every member of the CAF is allowed to buy single game tickets before the general public. They are offered to the President's Associates first and then they move down the line through the Flag Wavers or until they run out. This is also the case for Seattle Game tickets, Hardwood Classic, Bowl Games, Away Games in the Cougar Section, Pac 12 Tournament, NCAA Tournament, etc.
Do I get a parking pass even if I'm not a season ticket holder?
As I understand it, parking passes are distributed at donation levels, so you should be able to get a parking pass even if you don't have tickets. You may have to request it though. Simple e-mail to the CAF and they'll ship you one for the games you're attending. I know I did that for basketball last year. Since I don't have basketball season tickets, they just sent me a parking pass for the games I was coming to.
Parking passes for football will be allocated only to those with season tickets, so single game purchasers will have to purchase a general parking spot on campus. These are allocated based on your donation to the CAF though, so if you do have season tickets and contribute, you'll get a pass!
Are those donor amounts an annual thing or lifetime thing? I'm assuming annual? Calendar year or year based on the date of your first donation?
Your donor level is calculated once per year, based on whatever you've pledged (I believe it's at the start of their fiscal year in April when they're doing Season Ticket Renewals), so if you've pledged quarterly $100 payments, you'd be in Butch's Club rather than the Gray Club.
What are Cougar Club special events?
Cougar Club Special Events can be anything the Athletic Department is holding (I strongly urge you guys to go to the Cougar Football Dinner in February. Leach will be there, it'll be the first time the coach is allowed to talk about the new recruits publicly, several ex-players will be there, memorabilia auction. Big fundraiser). So if it's $100 per plate to the dinner, you might get in for $75 per plate or something like that. If you get enough people to go, you can buy a table at the dinner and a former player will sit with you. We had Trufant at the B-Lot table last year. Pretty cool. There are also golf tournaments in the Summer, there's a huge party in Tri-Cities every year and last year they unveiled the new uniforms there, stuff like that.
If I am a donor for 3 years and in 3 years decide to also purchase season tickets, how does my 3 prior years of being a donor affect buying season tickets?
If you have been donating for three years without season tickets, then yes that will definitely improve your options when you make the leap. It's all based on your TPS number. Essentially in February, they get all the previous season ticket holders to renew. If they want to upgrade their seats they have to get in line with new people, but their TPS number will help them too. So essentially after they have their renewals in place, they start taking new orders based on TPS number. So if you've been a Butch's Club member for three years, you'll have a much better selection than someone who is a Flag Waver or someone who hasn't been donating.
How can I double my contribution without actually doubling my contribution?
WSU Foundation is a non-profit organization, so any donations you make to the CAF can be matched by employers who do charity matching. If two season tickets came with a $400 donation each and then you donate a few hundred dollars on top of that, your $1,000 or so actually becomes $2,000 once your company kicks in their half and now I'm a President's Associate without having to pay two grand.
What do I get for each level of contribution?
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