December 12, 2016
BLACKSBURG – The Virginia Tech Athletics Department announced today the launching of a campaign entitled “Drive for 25,” with the department seeking to increase membership in the Virginia Tech Athletic Fund (aka the “Hokie Club”) to 25,000 members.
If it reaches this goal, the Hokie Club – currently at approximately 11,000 members – would be the largest athletics fundraising group in the ACC. The clubs at Clemson and Florida State were just shy of 25,000 members during the previous academic year.
The impetus behind the Drive for 25 is to raise the financial resources needed to provide Virginia Tech student-athletes with the opportunities to continue their success in the classroom, in competition and in the community. The department’s graduation success rate (GSR), which came out recently, was its highest ever, and Tech’s student-athletes performed more community service hours during the last academic year than ever before. In competition, Tech programs have won 22 ACC championships since 2004 and more than 125 student-athletes have earned All-America honors in that span.
Yet the cost of maintaining that success continues to rise. The Hokie Club’s primary role in providing opportunities for student-athletes comes through the raising of money for scholarships, but tuition, fees and cost of attendance increases continue to climb. The department projects the scholarship bill for 2016-17 to be around $14.4 million, and the Hokie Club raised $11.5 million for scholarships last year.
Thus, department officials have launched the Drive for 25 to encourage current members to continue or increase their financial support and to invite more fans and alums to help with the investment in student-athletes’ future successes.
Former Virginia Tech head football coach Frank Beamer, who retired following last season, has agreed to serve as the spokesperson for the Drive for 25. Beamer, a longtime member of the Hokie Club who has given extensively to Tech athletics and academics over the years, will speak at various functions and at many of the Hokie Club’s spring Orange and Maroon Tour events about the importance of scholarships and how those impact the lives of student-athletes.
“I know firsthand from both my experience as a student-athlete and from coaching just how important scholarships are to young people here at Virginia Tech,” Beamer said. “Scholarships change lives, and that’s why Cheryl and I have always been willing to give to help these student-athletes not just to play sports, but to get an education. Many of my former players wouldn’t have received that opportunity otherwise.
“So I’m looking forward to being a part of this campaign and feel honored to be a part of helping young men and women even though I’m retired. There is no better way to help our student-athletes than to join the Hokie Club, and I’m encouraging all of Hokie Nation to do so. I know they want to invest in what we’re building here at Virginia Tech.”
The athletics department wants to see the initiative bring the percentage of athletics donors more in line with other ACC institutions. Currently, less than 4 percent of living alumni give back to athletics at Virginia Tech – a number that ranks 11th in the ACC. Also, the amount of money raised for athletics scholarships ranks 11th among league schools.
In contrast, Clemson – whom the Hokies played in the ACC football title game – sees 18 percent of its alumni giving back to athletics. Clemson, Louisville and Florida State all raised more than $21 million to go toward athletics scholarships in 2015-16. Those resources give those schools an overall advantage and provide educational opportunities.
“There is no better time to get involved with Virginia Tech Athletics, and there is no better way to impact our success than to join the Hokie Club, no matter where you live,” Director of Athletics Whit Babcock said. “It’s about our students and scholarship opportunities, and it’s about competing at the highest levels.
“We will keep working hard to represent Virginia Tech in a first-class manner and make the Hokie Nation proud, but we need our alumni and friends to step up and be a part of it all and to join the Drive for 25. We also couldn’t be more pleased that Coach Beamer is willing to be the face of this crucial initiative. We all know the significance of the No. 25 here at Virginia Tech.”
In addition to retaining current Hokie Club members, Hokie Club officials plan on soliciting new members through a future mass mailing, emailing them a link to a newly created and user friendly website for the Drive for 25 initiative along with a PDF tri-fold brochure with all the details. The site allows alums and fans to contribute easily, and it also contains a facts page and an interactive chart that tracks membership during the initiative.
The site includes a video that features Beamer and the importance of the Drive for 25. The video will be played at men’s and women’s basketball games throughout the remainder of the season. Infographics explaining the Drive for 25 will be released through the athletics department’s social media platforms as well, as a part of a continuous educating of fans on how to invest in the future of Tech’s student-athletes.
For more information, please contact the Hokie Club office at 540-231-6618, or by emailing the Hokie Club at email@example.com.