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As employees begin to make their decisions about how much they can contribute to this year's Annual Fund campaign, the Office of Development would also like them to give due consideration to where their gifts will go.

Unrestricted gifts allow the university to direct the money where it is most needed at the time, but the Annual Fund contribution form also offers the option of restricted giving to: Academics, Athletics, University Priorities, Alumni Programs, Library or "Other."

This year, campaign organizers are asking that employees think about a restricted gift to a particular "Other": the Big Blue Club.

Also known formally as the Intercollegiate Foundation, the Big Blue Club is the fund-raising arm of the athletic department, responsible for securing funds for athletic scholarships and other initiatives. Because athletics receives no tax dollars for any phase of its operations, it falls to the Big Blue Club to raise the funds that allow the university's sports programs to compete on the national level.

In recent years, however, contributions to the Big Blue Club have not kept pace with the need, and that?s where faculty and staff can help, according to Alonzo Brandon, executive director of foundations.

"In order to provide for the long-term success of our program we need to build our endowed scholarships," Brandon said. "Having an endowment assures us of always having money for athletic scholarships."

He points out that an impressive 86 percent of Old Dominion student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility graduate from the university, a number far above the national average.

Terry Durkin, the university's director of housing services and a 15-year member of the Big Blue Club, is one of its biggest fans. "I have been an employee of Old Dominion for 13 years, and during that time I have had the opportunity to get to know quite a few of the student-athletes from many teams. It has been rewarding to see them grow both on and off their various fields of competition.

"I have also talked to a number of them after they graduated and moved into their professions, and many said that without the scholarship support they received they would not be where they are today. That type of feedback makes me proud to be a member of the Big Blue Club."

In an effort to gain more members this year, the Annual Fund staff has added an incentive: Those who contribute $100 or more to the Big Blue Club will be entered in a drawing to win two season tickets to either the men's or women's home basketball games for the 2001-02 season.

Membership in the Big Blue Club also come with perks. Depending on the amount of the contribution, the club offers an array of benefits, starting with priority seating for two at basketball games (with the purchase of season tickets) for a gift of $100 to $199.

Gifts at the next level, $200 to $374, offer priority seating for three, away game ticket and travel privileges, and Big Blue Room passes, which are good for free beverages before and at halftime of the men's and women's basketball games. In all, there are eight levels of giving, from Blue Lion ($100 to $199) to Royal Monarch ($10,000 and above).

Plans call for expanding the scope of the Big Blue Club to make it more of an active organization, Brandon noted, with regional clubs and sponsored events where members can meet players and coaches throughout the year.

For more information about the Big Blue Club call Mark Benson in the Office of Development at 683-5696.

This article was posted on: March 12, 2001

Old Dominion University
Office of University Relations

Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.