Donations to the biggest college sports programs climbed as the U.S. economy faltered, with contributions rising 24 percent from the middle of 2006 to the middle of 2010.
The 54 public schools in the six most powerful sports conferences collected $998 million in fiscal 2010, up from $805 million in 2007, according to records from colleges in the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences. The increase came during a period when unemployment jumped to 9.5 percent from 4.6 percent and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 19.5 percent, to 1,030.71.
What sustained contribution levels were the gifts that schools require fans make to purchase, or hold on to, tickets for prime seats, according to fundraising executives. While one season ticket for University of Florida football games costs $259, a Gator fan who wants to sit in a premium seat near the 50-yard line would have to donate an additional $2,450.