Guest Post: Join The Team

By Selahcoug

Hello fellow Cougs.  I am writing today to talk about something many in the blogosphere are probably somewhat familiar with, and that is the Cougar Athletic Fund.  While many here may know what this is, I have found that just as many Cougs out there really do not know what this means.  For one, there seems to be a pretty common misconception that the Alumni Association and the Cougar Athletic fund are the same thing.  Well, it's not.  With this guest post today, I felt like it was time to share some knowledge with other Cougs that I have learned over the past several years by being involved with my local Cougar Club.  Even if this is old hat for you, please share with other Cougs you know so that everyone can be on the same page….

What is the Cougar Athletic Fund you ask?  The Cougar Athletic Fund is the fundraising arm of the Washington State University Athletic Department.  In the past, this was just known as the WSU Athletic Department.  When Bill Moos took over, he rebranded it the Cougar Athletic Fund, or CAF for short.  The main goal of the CAF is to provide scholarship support for WSU student athletes.  You see, when an athlete gets a “free ride” or a full scholarship, they do get tuition, books, food and lodging at no cost to them.  The University does not waive these costs however, they fall on the CAF to cover that side of things.  With the cost of tuition increasing every year, these CAF costs continue to grow.  In fact, over the past 5 years, the WSU student athlete scholarship costs have risen by 46%, from $6.4 million to $9.4 million

While the CAF has grown considerably over the past couple of years, it still has a long way to go.  Just back in 2010, WSU was still ranked 10th in the conference as far as number of donors to the CAF.  We now have jumped up to the middle of the pack, but the overall donations are still well below many of our peers across the Pac-12 landscape.  You see, in 2013, the CAF received $5.7 million in donations.  Normally that would be something to celebrate, and it is a great increase from 2011, which was only at $2.7 million.  While that looks great on paper and graphs and charts and all that, the amount the tuition has increased over the same time really hasn’t narrowed the gap.  In 2013, the $5.7 million donated is still $3.7 million under the $9.4 million cost of scholarships.  Check it out:

Yep, still some ground to gain


Some may say "Well, what about that boatload of money we get from the new Pac-12 TV contract?"  Yes, that money has been/will be great for WSU, allowing us to finally pay coaches a competitive Pac-12 salary as well as the much-needed facility upgrades throughout the athletic department.  But think of it this way –  all of the other teams in the league get this same amount of money as well.  And many of them have the luxury of having the entirety of their scholarship costs covered by donations!  So what do you think they are doing with all this extra money?  They can put all of it straight into those salaries and facilities, as the Pac-12 arms race continues to evolve across the conference.  And really, that means unless we can cover these costs through the CAF, even with the Pac-12 network and the millions that come with it, WSU will fall farther behind the competition(!).

So how can someone become a member of the CAF?  Anyone who donates at least $50 to the CAF on an annual basis is automatically a member.  Of course you can donate much more than that if you have the means, but $50 dollars will let you “Join the Team”.  This $50 is not a lifetime membership however, it is an annual membership.  After all, those scholarships don’t disappear after one year!

Like many corporations in the business world, the WSU fiscal year, as well as the CAF fiscal year, runs July 1st to June 30th.  So any donations during that time count toward membership in that fiscal year, meaning the 2014 CAF membership actually started in July of 2013.  WSU provided a list of people who are CAF members this past year and I heard several people mention that they were not on the list.  While there could be some technical difficulties when that list was complied, those people who didn't show up may have donated before July 1st and were 2013 CAF members, but are not now current members.  While this is confusing, it is something to keep in mind when rankings for the CAF come about.

So, what’s in it for me?  Besides helping the student athletes get an education while busting their tails for us all to cheer for, there are several benefits to being a CAF member.  Since the CAF is part of an educational institution, donations to the CAF are tax deductible (yes, it's tax season and an extra write-off wouldn't be too bad right about now?).  In addition to this, CAF donations and membership gain you TPS points, or Ticket Priority when buying season tickets or bowl games.  So the more you donate and more importantly, the number of years you donate, the better your opportunities for better seats and even better parking for games in Pullman. The CAF has also recently started sending out membership tokens, like the bracelets and lapel pins you can wear to show others that you are not just a fan, but you are a Coug.  Here's a list of more benefits of the CAF.

What other ways can you get involved?  While hopefully every Coug out there can muster up the annual $50 donation to become a member, there are also other ways to help as well.  You can join your local Cougar Club.

No, it has nothing to do with hot older women….

The Cougar Club is a group of local volunteers who assist the Cougar Athletic Fund staff in promoting the Cougar Athletic Fund.  Cougar Clubs sponsor events and engage local alumni and friends with WSU news and activities. It is a great way to meet other local Cougs and stay on top of what is going on at WSU and in your local community.  You can find the Cougar Club nearest you by clicking the link which also has contact info.  You can also help spread the word through the volunteer fund drive, which has started back up this month.

I hope that helps clear things up for people.  I know I am probably preaching to the choir here, but please share with your “t-shirt” Coug friends who may talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.  Join The Team

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