July 01, 2009
KNOXVILLE -- The University of Tennessee announced today the creation of the Tennessee Fund, designed to consolidate and streamline the athletic benefit program, ensure equity in the program, and eliminate any confusion for donors regarding tax deductibility of their gifts.
"Tennessee has historically had a unique partnership between academics and athletics –- especially as it relates to our donors ability to have athletic benefits for academic donations," said University of Tennessee Interim President Jan Simek. "The creation of the Tennessee Fund will further enhance that relationship while also allowing the university to streamline the management of athletic benefits."
Under the Tennessee Fund, the athletic department will assume central responsibility for the management of all athletic benefit priority programs, including the benefit program for those who contributed to non-athletic programs. All donors interested in athletic benefits, including Volunteer Athletics & Scholarship Fund (VASF) donors and Lady Vol Boost-Her Club donors, will be combined into a new athletics administered program known as the Tennessee Fund.
Under the new arrangement, the University of Tennessee Athletics Department will guarantee the academic leadership on each campus funding equal to or greater than the amount donors previously donated to non-athletic programs to gain athletic benefits. Currently the athletic department provides direct cash support to the University of $1.375 million annually for scholarships for non-athletes and $1.125 million for parking garage debt service. Through the Tennessee Fund, the athletic department will increase the guaranteed direct cash support by an average of $2.875 million per year over the next ten years for an average direct cash support of $5.375 million a year.
"Over the past few years it has become more and more apparent that maintaining two separate football and men's basketball priority programs was not only inefficient in terms of resources and staff allocation, but has also created benefit differences and confusion to donors," Simek said. "We feel this will improve service and fairness for all donors while allowing the University to continue its unique tradition of using athletic benefits to reward general university support."
During the process, existing university donors will have their memberships transferred into Tennessee Fund accounts, including point system totals reflecting their years of giving and dollars contributed. Existing season ticket locations for all donors affected will be maintained based upon their previous gift club membership levels and by maintaining annual giving levels. All parking will be reassigned annually beginning in 2010 based on Tennessee Fund donor rankings.
"We are proud to be able to partner with the University and to share in the resources generated by those interested in receiving athletic benefits such as the opportunity to purchase priority season tickets and parking passes. The creation of the Tennessee Fund will allow us to further enhance that relationship while providing a more fair and consistent athletic benefits programs for all donors," said Men's Athletics Director Mike Hamilton.
Tiffany Carpenter, (865) 974-1361
Elizabeth Davis, (865) 974-5179