athletic boosters
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Top Donations in College Sports: Who are the Most Generous Athletic Boosters

Have you ever wondered who’s behind the big money in college sports? Let’s talk about athletic boosters and how their donations are shaping the world of college athletics.

What Are Athletic Boosters?

Athletic boosters are people who support college sports teams through donations of money and time. They’re often called “representatives of the institution’s athletic interests” by the NCAA. Boosters can be anyone who:

  • Buys season tickets
  • Joins organizations that promote university athletics
  • Gives money to the athletic department
  • Helps find jobs for student-athletes
  • Assists in recruiting new athletes
  • Provides benefits to student-athletes or their families

Once someone becomes a booster, they’re always considered a booster by the NCAA.

The Role of Boosters in College Athletics

Boosters play a big part in helping college athletes succeed both on and off the field. They provide financial support that helps pay for things like:

  • New facilities
  • Equipment
  • Scholarships
  • Coaching salaries

Their donations are a major source of funding for athletic departments. In fact, from 2018 to 2022, donations to public college athletic departments went up by 20%.

Which Schools Have the Richest Boosters: Biggest Individual Donors

  • Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, has given more than $1 billion to the University of Oregon over the past two decades.
  • At Oklahoma State, the late T. Boone Pickens’ foundation recently gave a $120 million gift.
  • At Florida, Gary Condron has given more than $22.5 million to the Gators over the years.

List of College Athletic Booster Donors 

It’s interesting to note that 7 out of the top 10 schools are in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). This shows how dominant the SEC is when it comes to athletic donations.

Now, let’s look at which schools have received the most money from boosters. Here’s a list of the top 10 schools and how much they’ve received in donations from 2005 to 2022:

  1. Oregon Ducks: $969 million
  2. Texas A&M Aggies: $849 million
  3. Texas Longhorns: $766 million
  4. Florida Gators: $763 million
  5. Georgia Bulldogs: $716 million
  6. Oklahoma State Cowboys: $670 million
  7. LSU Tigers: $618 million
  8. Oklahoma Sooners: $597 million
  9. Auburn Tigers: $580 million
  10. Florida State Seminoles: $540 million
  11. Ohio State Buckeyes: $536 million
  12. Alabama Crimson Tide: $528 million
  13. Virginia Cavaliers: $516 million
  14. Tennessee Volunteers: $500 million
  15. Michigan Wolverines: $493 million
  16. Iowa Hawkeyes: $477 million
  17. Clemson Tigers: $476 million
  18. South Carolina Gamecocks: $466 million
  19. Kansas JayHawks: $459 million
  20. Louisville Cardinals: $450 million
  21. Michigan State Spartans: $439 million
  22. Washington Huskies: $402 million
  23. Texas Tech Red Raiders: $396 million
  24. Wisconsin Badgers: $389 million
  25. Penn State Nittany Lions: $386 million
  26. Illinois Fighting Illini: $373 million
  27. West Virginia Mountaineers: $354 million
  28. Indiana Hoosiers: $351 million
  29. Arizona Wildcats: $346 million
  30. North Carolina Tar Heels: $344 million
  31. Mizzou Tigers: $344 million
  32. Arkansas Razorbacks: $324 million
  33. Kansas State Wildcats: $324 million
  34. Virginia Tech Hokies: $319 million
  35. Ole Miss Rebels: $310 million
  36. Kentucky Wildcats: $302 million
  37. Purdue Boilermakers: $289 million
  38. California Golden Bears: $283 million
  39. Mississippi State Bulldogs; $273 million
  40. Arizona State Sun Devils: $265 million
  41. Iowa State Cyclones: $249 million
  42. Nebraska Cornhuskers: $236 million
  43. UCLA Bruins: $233 million
  44. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: $220 million
  45. NC State Wolfpack: $216 million
  46. Colorado Buffaloes: $208 million
  47. Oregon State Beavers: $201 million
  48. Minnesota Golden Gophers: $199 million
  49. Maryland Terrapins: $194 million
  50. Memphis Tigers: $170 million

The Impact of NIL on Donations

You might have heard about NIL, which stands for Name, Image, and Likeness. This new rule allows college athletes to make money from their personal brand. Some people worried that NIL might lead to fewer donations to athletic departments.

However, early data shows this isn’t the case. In fact, across 46 schools studied, the average school saw a 13% increase in donations. Some schools, like Texas A&M and North Carolina State, even saw their donations more than double!

Do Athletic Boosters Pay Coaches’ Salaries?

While boosters can’t directly pay coaches’ salaries, their donations to the athletic department can certainly help. The money they give often goes into a general fund that can be used for various expenses, including coaches’ pay.

In 2019, before the pandemic, the average salary for a college football head coach was $3.5 million per season. Top coaches, like Kirby Smart at Georgia, can make nearly four times that amount!