By Nicholas Cousins
SUNY Plattsburgh held the “Game on for Giving” fundraiser this semester for the seventh consecutive year. During the event, Cardinal athletic teams face off against one another for the support and overall engagement between students, fans and coaches.
There is a $5,000 prize that is split in three ways: $2,500 is awarded to the team with the most alumni donors, $1,500 is awarded to the team with the second most alumni donors and the final $1,000 is awarded to whichever team had the highest growth from the previous year.
Women’s hockey had the most donors with 142. Women’s basketball had the second most donors with 125. Men’s lacrosse had the highest increase from last year to this year by 940%.
The competition aspect of this makes the fundraiser more fun for everyone involved. Mike Howard, the athletic director at Plattsburgh, introduced this idea to the university in 2016.
“[Game on for Giving is] a networking experience that is barely about the money,” Howard said. “Overall, the event got off to a great start but was a bit hesitant at first even with over 500 donors. The event has still managed to grow a significant amount over time which is strictly due to people being passionate about sports.”
Howard explained the idea for the fundraiser was mainly to get people involved and for the connection between alumni to stay as strong as possible within sports. With the number of sports teams at Plattsburgh, there have been varied success across sports.
For example, men’s basketball had just 12 donors. Women’s volleyball had 20 donors and men’s hockey had 44. There is no direct correlation between on-field results or popularity on campus and donor support. This idea shows that any team is capable of great results because the support that Plattsburgh receives all around the board is strong.
Overall, each sport has found success with this event in regards to donations and fan interaction. Andrew Krug, who is the track & field head coach, stated that there has been great support within the sport that began at Plattsburgh in the 1960s.
One form of recent support has been the “match donor” challenge where alumni donors put up a price they want to donate and get people of their age group to tag along. With one of the biggest alumni bases across teams, Krug said it is still a goal to get more people involved.
Howard said that “people should be energized for their teams” and that the culture for the event has definitely been set throughout the years. Assistant Director of Athletics Brian Savard said he focuses mainly on participation during this event.
Savard made sure to emphasize that because his position is different from a coach, he has to think outside the box and that solely narrows down on the audience that is being sought after for donations and interaction.
Savard said he tries to seek out family and friends along with faculty and staff for donations so that he does not step on the toes of any coach who is most likely more in touch with alumni in their respective sports fields.
Savard has high hopes for the future of the event.
“[Game on for Giving should] focus more on overall participation versus just alumni. It should be spread widely throughout the entire Plattsburgh community for more engagement,” Savard said. “Overall the more giving that is done it will renew love for everyone involved. It is important for everyone to be reminded why they are doing something.”