The Boise State swimming & diving and baseball programs, both of which received news in last week that they were being phased out by the school, have teamed up to amass half-a-million dollars in pledges so far.
In addition, the baseball program has launched a Gofundme account that has raised over $67,000 in actual donations as of posting time.
The programs’ goal is to raise $2 million, which they hope will be “more than enough” to cover the cost of saving the programs.
Boise State says that the elimination of these two sports to help cover an anticipated $3 million budget deficit caused by the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Idaho Statesman, the school’s athletics director Curt Apsey has said that fundraising is not an option, because the move was as much about the long term health of the department as the short term budget deficit.
Over the last 3 years, expenses for the swimming & diving program have averaged $907,736, according to the Statesman.
The baseball team, which was brought back this spring after having been dropped as a varsity sport in 1980. At the time, the school dropped wrestling to pursue baseball.
That leaves both programs facing a problem of a lack of alumni to lean on for fundraising. The swimming & diving program was launched for the 2006-2007 season, meaning that the program’s oldest alumni are in their mid-30s. The modern iteration of the baseball program has, essentially, no alumni. There is another older group in their late 50s and early 60s who have been disconnected from the program for almost 4 decades.
The fates of the two programs are likely aligned because of Title IX regulations.
This is one of a number of fundraising efforts going on around the country to save swimming & diving programs. East Carolina has already collected over $715,000 in pledges to save its team that was also cut at the end of last season.
There are a few examples of fundraising efforts saving programs in prior years, including Dartmouth in 2002 (the program is on the chopping block again), though there are far more examples where fundraising efforts have been unable to sway decision makers.