The Loyola athletic department saw a 660 percent increase in donations due to the men’s basketball team’s March Madness run, Tom Sorboro, a Loyola Athletics official, confirmed to The Phoenix. ESPN first reported the story. Specific amounts of the donations were not disclosed.
The increase in donations spanned from March 1 to April 2, meaning the department hasn’t reported donations that came after the Final Four. Sorboro said donors can choose where the money goes, whether it be toward specific sports or the Loyola Athletic Fund, which would spread the money out across all 13 sports and benefit the department as a whole.
“If someone is a women’s soccer [alum] and they want to make a gift specifically to women’s soccer … they can direct their gift to women’s soccer and it would go into the women’s soccer fund,” Sorboro said. “Then it would be utilized for … things to enhance that program, specifically.”
Sorboro said some of the donations will be set aside for the Alfie Norville Practice Facility, which The Phoenix reported is worth $18.5 million and is set to break ground this week. He said the timing of the construction with the Final Four made it easier for donors to come out of the woodwork.
“The investment in the Alfie Practice Facility … will allow us to do a lot of things,” Sorboro said. “The momentum to continue from the Final Four into a project we already had planned is exciting and I think donors are excited to be able to support … all of our core sports. There’s a widespread benefit to a large number of our student-athletes.”
While fundraising’s key to improving Loyola’s athletic programs, it’s not the only way programs earn money. Sorboro said licensing, sponsorships and ticket sales are also integral to helping the department.
Earlier this month, The Phoenix reported men’s basketball season ticket sales are up 170 percent due to the team’s Final Four run. Sorboro said he’s happy to see donors supporting the entire athletic department because of the men’s basketball team’s success.
“The impact of the department is going to be felt on a number of different levels and … fundraising is just one piece of that,” Sorboro said. “We’re excited about the fact that our alumni and friends of the [men’s basketball] program are interested coming [on] the heels of the Final Four run and supporting us.”
Sorboro said the athletic department will continue to track the donations through the end of fiscal year 2018 and will compare them with donations made during fiscal year 2017.