Matt Kupec: Does a Mid-Major NCAA Final Four Run Turn into Fundraising Success

by Matt Kupec

March 16, 2019

It is the time of the year – March Madness – when the NCAA Men’s Tournament takes over the sports scene and dominates our time and attention with a dazzling display of collegiate basketball games with the focus on getting to the NCAA Final Four.

Last week I had the privilege of attending my first Missouri Valley Conference basketball tournament.  The MVC is one of the “mid-major” conferences, not quite considered at the level of the Power 5 Conferences (ACC, SEC, Pac-10, Big 12, and Big Ten.),  but conferences that play outstanding basketball.   Often a “cinderella” team emerges from one of the mid-major conferences and earns a trip to the Final Four.

Last year, Loyola of Chicago had the magical ride to the Final Four.  Other mid-major teams that have gone to the Final Four in the last fifteen years include Butler (2010, 2011), Virginia Commonwealth University (2011), Wichita State (2013 as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference), Memphis (2008) and George Mason (2006).

It is widely believed that NCAA Basketball Success and a trip to the Final Four leads to significant increases in enrollment, fundraising and new national branding opportunities as the national media brings unprecedented marketing and publicity opportunities for these mid-major schools.

In this blog post I have researched whether these schools did experience significant fundraising success after a Final Four run.  There are some good studies that have concluded to differing degrees what this March Madness success had done for these major schools in terms of enrollment and merchandising but I am looking solely at the fundraising performance……….

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Matt Kupec: My First Missouri Valley Conference Basketball Tournament

by Matt Kupec

March 11, 2019

I attended the Missouri Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament for the first time this past weekend.  I was there to watch the Southern Illinois Saluki’s compete for the MVC Championship in hopes of coming away with three consecutive wins and the prize of a berth into the NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship.

Unfortunately, SIU came up short and lost a tight contest to the University of Northern Iowa Panthers on a last second bucket by UNI.  A very disappointing loss in a season that began with high hopes and ended in the resignation of Head Basketball Coach Barry Vinson.

I have attended many Atlantic Coast Conference Championships over the years when I was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s vice chancellor for development & university relations.  I had seen many great games with Tar Heel victories and some disappointing losses as well.  During my twenty-one years at UNC, the Tar Heels won five ACC Tournament titles.

As I watching SIU compete Friday night, I began comparing the Missouri Valley Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournaments, thinking about the similarities and differences.  Here is my assessment….

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About the Author

Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with 32 years of significant higher education development experience. He has directed three major university fundraising campaigns and nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership. He has led the fundraising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and HelpMeSee, a New York City based non-profit. He is currently serving as Senior In-House Fundraising Counsel for Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Matt is a former record-breaking four year starting quarterback for the UNC Tar Heels. During his career he set 19 season and career passing records. Two of which still stand — most consecutive games with a TD pass and most wins as a starting QB. Matt also set the ACC record for TD passes his senior year at UNC. Matt was named MVP of the 1977 Liberty Bowl and the 1979 Gator Bowl becoming the 1st player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named MVP of two bowl games.

Matt Kupec: Just How Little is “Little ‘ole Clemson?”

by Matt Kupec

January 17, 2019

In the aftermath of Clemson’s very convincing victory over Alabama to clinch the national college football championship, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was rightfully basking in the success in his post-game remarks.  In a joyous, happy and jubilant ESPN interview, Coach Sweeney in his homespun and country way kept referring to his national champions as “little ‘ole Clemson” as he talked about the Tigers undefeated season to capture the national championship.

Coach Swinney has had an amazing ten-year run building the “little ‘ole Clemson” program into one of the top programs nationally and making an argument for the top spot over college football’s other powerhouse the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.

The question we pose to our readers in this post “is Clemson really that small” as Dabo Swinney would like to make us believe?  We decided to investigate for ourselves.  We looked at all the Power 5 Conference teams (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big Twelve and Pac-12) to see where Clemson would fall in comparisons in four categories – town population, enrollment, fundraising success, and stadium capacity – to give us a little better insight I as to whether or not Clemson is indeed “little ‘ole Clemson.”

Here is what we found:

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Matt Kupec: College Coaches Making 65 Years Old the New 45

by Matt Kupec

December 25, 2018

For all of us aging quicker than we would like to acknowledge, one of my new favorite expressions is that “in today’s society 65 years old is the new 45!” No matter how gray our hair has become or how many aches we feel on a daily basis, our minds feel that we are as young — and good — as ever!

It may feel like we are kidding ourselves but, then again, maybe we are not!!

Three recent personnel moves in the college sports world have brought great comfort to many of us who are in the 60 plus aging category! The hiring of Les Miles — age 65 — as the University of Kansas new head football coach and Mack Brown — age 67 — as head coach at the University of North Carolina were great examples that maybe there is a fountain of youth after all.

Then to add another bounce to our aging step, the University of North Carolina announced they had given an eight-year contract extension to their 68-year old head basketball coach Roy Williams. Coach Williams can be coaching at 76 years of age!

Holy youth serum!

Coaches Miles, Brown and Williams are not alone in the “new 45” age bracket. Add in youthful college head coaches Mike Krzyzewski (Duke — age 71), Nick Saban (Alabama — age 66), Butch Davis (FIU — age 68), Jim Boeheim (Syracuse — age 74), John Beilein (Michigan — age 65) and Tom Izzo (Michigan State — age 63) and we have a “youth movement” right in front of our very eyes!

What is going on here and why are coaches staying in their jobs longer into their careers? Here are a few thoughts:

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Matt Kupec: Giving Trends in Higher Education

by Matt Kupec

November 21, 2018

Fundraising at colleges and universities has become a very important source of revenue.   As University leaders face increased pressure on enrollments, new program initiatives, escalating personnel and program costs, and infrastructure needs for building renovations and upgrades, philanthropic support is taking on added responsibility for helping these organizations meet their ambitious agendas..

Colleges are making more investments in their fundraising operations as they look to dramatically increase their level of private giving support.  As such, we are seeing unprecedented growth in fundraising

Every year, the Council for Aid to Education releases the fundraising numbers for all institutions of higher learning.  For 2017, 3,700 institutions responded to the study.  Here we take a look at some of the results of the study:

  • Overall Trends in Higher Education Fundraising. Here are some of the trends of higher education fundraising:
    • Giving to America’s colleges rose 6 percent in 2017, lifted by a surge in giving by alumni.
    • Higher education as a sector raised $43.6 billion, the largest amount ever counted by the CAE survey since it began in 1957.
    • Colleges’ fundraising performed better than that for all nonprofits over all. The most recent “Giving USA,” which covered 2016, saw only a 1.4 percent increase in private support.
    • In 2016, giving by alumni was down by nearly 9 percent and by 6 percent among other individuals.
    • The Top 20 Universities in fundraising raised nearly $12.2 billion, or 28%, of the $43.6 billion total (see more below).
  • Top 20 Colleges in Giving. Listed below are the top 20 universities in terms of the overall dollars raised.  There are no surprises here as these colleges consistently rank as the top funding institutions on an annual basis.  The Ivy League placed six schools in the top ten.  The University of Washington at #12 is the highest fundraising public university……..

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Matt Kupec: Was Jimmy Wolf Right That Soccer Would Become More Popular than Football?

by Matt Kupec

November 3, 2018

I need your help!

This will be one of the most gut wrenching blog posts I will ever write! Today, I will give in and admit that a prediction made by Jimmy Wolf during our Syosset High School years that “soccer would become more popular than football within ten years” might have come true!

The setting is Syosset High School in the mid-1970’s. Syosset is riding the wave of great football success under Coach John Miller. Lopsided wins become a weekly occasion and players like Kevin Mannix, Jack Miravel, Ken Bailey, Don Perfall and I were named to All-State teams. Home games in 1973 & 1974 against rival Farmingdale draw some 10,000 people to each game. A football banner recognizing the 1974 team as the #1 team in New York is hung in the gym. Football is king, at least in my eyes!

One of my best friends in high school was named Jimmy Wolf. Jimmy was smart, hardworking, athletic and very competitive. Jimmy had an infectious personality and was very popular. Jimmy was also a star soccer player at Syosset HS.

Back in those days, the soccer team played its home games on a field right outside of the high school, pretty much of a temporary field. Games were played during the weeks with small turnouts. Due to the games being played mid-week the football guys had the chance to watch of couple of games. Jim Hanophy was another friend and a star player as well so we would support the soccer team.

But Jimmy Wolf, in his competitive and somewhat confrontational way, would always tell me that “within 10 years soccer would be more popular than football.” You can imagine my responses to Jimmy’s claims. “Not a chance,” I would boost with my head held high as football was so popular in our school and the nation. “Soccer will never become more popular than football,” I would growl at Jimmy as he kept repeating his soccer claims.

But today, I am here to say to Jimmy Wolf may be right! This conclusion has been gnawing at me for years as I knew we were headed there but I just didn’t want to acknowledge the fact that a sport so popular in the rest of the world would become more popular than football in America. I love football and think it’s the greatest team sport of all! There was also a toughness that came with putting on the pads and the helmet and then battling on the field. And football seemed to be such a great community builder. But, things have been changing…….

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Matt Kupec: Thank You to My Syosset HS Head Coaches

By Matt Kupec

October 27, 2018

I was reading recently of some of the legendary high school coaches of all time. Great stories of men and women who have dedicated their lives for the opportunity and responsibility to influence a young person for life through the power of coaching!

Pretty strong stuff!!

It made me think about the coaches, or influencers as I like to call them, I had while I was attending Syosset High School in Syosset, NY. I played three sports — football, basketball, baseball — and I was good in all three. Our teams enjoyed considerable success and the football team my senior year went undefeated and was ranked #1 in New York.

My coaches were Joel Goldberg, Len Mintz, and John Miller. Back then we referred to them as “Mr.” not “Coach” as is the trend today. They were talented and dedicated and they certainly had their own style of coaching. All three ingrained lessons in me that have shaped my life…….

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Memorable Lessons Learned

October 16, 2018

Have you ever worked with somebody who taught you a valuable lesson that you have used in your life? Has anybody given you sage advice? It could be a boss, colleague, parent, teacher, coach, religious leader or somebody else whom you have been associated with during your life.

A good lesson learned will be etched in your memory and probably part of your daily routine. You can recite them in your sleep? Your poor family and friends have heard the lessons hundreds of times. You probably have tried to impart these valuable lessons to colleagues at work!

And sometimes they can be so simple it is astonishing that the lesson you learned has stayed with you for so long!

One that jumps to my mind came years ago when I was just fourteen years old. I was playing in a baseball all-star tournament and my team was set to go against a player who was an all-world pitcher. At practice the day before the game we were all intimidated by what we considered the herculean task of defeating this behemoth. We were even more of an underdog than David vs. Goliath! At least it felt that way!!

But I’ll never remember my coach, Mr. Wilkinson, telling us not to be intimidated by this guy and that he “puts his pants on one leg a time” just like we do. His message was clear. This guy was mortal and he was beatable. Well we went out the next day and won the game to advance to the National Championship Babe Ruth World Series. And thanks to Mr. Wilkinson I never ever let anybody intimidate me before a game for the rest of my career!! Any imposing situation I face, I recite the words of wisdom from Mr. Wilkinson!….

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