Aug. 26, 2008
It is quite evident on Clemson’s campus and around the State the excitement is building with the anticipation of the upcoming school year and the 2008 Clemson football season.
First, I want to take this opportunity to share with each and every IPTAY donor how proud we are of the tremendous support we received this year. Having a 38 percent increase in our financial year-end totals from our membership demonstrates that our donors are passionate and willing to invest in Clemson Athletics. These additional resources are essential to help grow our program and provide the resources for our student-athletes.
Football season tickets and parking were mailed Wed. Aug. 13, to all donors who fulfilled their pledge payment. For the past several weeks our office has been very busy returning phone calls, emails and dealing with a variety of customer service relations.
We have heard from many of our donors who were pleased to have the opportunity to retain their seats by increasing their giving level, as well as many who increased their level to qualify to improve their seating requests and keep or upgrade their parking.
I think it is important to understand the monumental task our office has engaged in to implement this Seat Equity Plan. With more than 11,000 season ticket holders and 86 percent requesting seating improvement on their ticket application. Statistically, that gives you an idea that we simply could not meet every request, even though a significant number of our donors incrementally increased their levels.
When the IPTAY Board decided to move forward with the Seat Equity Plan, it was decided not to develop an anticipated financial performa in regards to a projected monetary figure. However, as you can see on the chart on this page, IPTAY, with the help of the Seat Equity Plan, had a very solid and healthy increase compared to last year. The chart also indicates a significant growth in the donation levels. In particular, the $2,100 level and above indicates remarkable growth and increases.
This entire Seat Equity Plan was a big step for the IPTAY organization. We learned a great deal from donor response, which was demonstrated in increased contributions — in good ole competitive Clemson fashion and style.
We received a lot of positive feedback on the initial communication we orchestrated, clearly and simply trying to convey how the IPTAY Seat Equity would work. We also received a great deal of support from our IPTAY Reps and IPTAY Board, knowing this would be a profound change. Additionally, we received a great deal of support with our Seat Equity concept to permit those who had seats the first opportunity to retain those seats.
Reflecting on our history, IPTAY has made very few changes over the past 28 years and changes that were made were incremental. Because of those incremental changes, the challenge to re-energize our IPTAY system based on level and points was challenging.
Primarily, all our donors, the IPTAY Board and our constituents embraced the Seat Equity concept; however, our office actually worked hard to change an established culture, utilize the IPTAY system and assign a seat value based on sight lines in the stadium.
A couple of other items I want to mention is that you, as donors, should be proud of our entire staff in External Affairs. I believe we have dedicated and hard-working employees who worked as a team to implement this Seat Equity Plan. Parking, Tickets, Marketing, Major Gifts and IPTAY all contributed in some form or fashion to work with various groups to ensure we communicated and followed up on issues that needed detailed attention.
IPTAY has been recognized as the Father of athletic fund-raising and the organization will celebrate its 75th anniversary this year. Clemson University has benefited from the Athletic Department’s visibility and has developed an integral link to our academic program as well.
Therefore, many people have paid the price and paved the way for the organization to carry on its mission well into the future. Clemson Athletics takes a great deal of pride in developing quality young men and women into productive citizens and leaders.
Through the generous donations of several generations of loyal IPTAY members, we have placed Clemson Athletics in a position to compete nationally and conference-wide in all our sports programs. This is what Terry Don Phillips means with his vision is to develop a Total Sports Program and by displaying his Solid Orange – “It’s All About Pride” slogan.
I believe it is important for everyone to understand that the Seat Equity Plan was a success for Clemson. Not only from the tremendous financial support we received, but now we have everyone paying the same value for seats in a particular section. There may be some donors that are contributing more than their current seat value, but it is certainly not less, which was happening before Seat Equity implementation.
Now, let me talk a little about some of our unintended consequences.
I think it is important to share with our donors some of the challenges we experienced with the Seat Equity Plan. First, our primary position was to ensure long-term season ticket holders would have the first opportunity to keep their seats. We wanted to promote and reward longevity.
Initially, we did our homework and knew how many donors and seats would be affected by the Seat Equity Plan, which was estimated at 5,500 seats between the 35-yard line on the North and South sides of the lower deck. When more than 70 percent of those donors retained their seats, it reduced the number of tickets to about 2,000 tickets for us to work with in the reallocation process.
Once we had tickets to reallocate, we started with the highest level and highest points and worked our way down through the rest of the levels. It was a difficult task for the Ticket Office in reallocating seat requests, particularly when donors asked for 6-8 seats together.
All these requests came from donors who already occupied existing seats. This was challenging to accommodate — even for some of our Heisman, Fike and McFadden donors, who were some of the first to go through the process.
We need our donors to understand all this growth has created a domino effect.
The second item that was somewhat of a surprise was the tremendous increases our donors provided to IPTAY. As I said, having a 38 percent increase impacted parking and affected our ability to accommodate some of our $2,100 and $1,400 donors who increased their contribution to those membership levels.
We understand that donors increased their levels to gain additional privileges; however, it was difficult for us to know that our donor base was going to respond in such grand fashion. Therefore, some of the levels, even though donors increased, became a moving target when you begin to view the scope of our membership and the increases that transpired.
I hope donors understand a couple things about these seat values and their donation. First, you can be assured everyone is at least paying the same value if they are sitting in a certain section. Now, some may be paying more than the value of those seats, but keep in mind parking is also associated with your level of giving.
I want to drive this point home and I hope everyone who reads this understands that IPTAY is not and was not established primarily for parking and tickets. Parking and tickets are our inventory that we use to raise our funds to meet our mission of IPTAY, which is to provide scholarships.
I hope our IPTAY donors understand that in order for us to have the program our donors want and the Athletic Department wants, we need the financial support necessary to secure the resources required for a quality Athletic Program.
Athletics is a business and, yes, we are making changes to meet our financial goals, as well as plan for the future of this organization. I hope the Clemson people never embrace the concept that they are overpaying for their seats.
However, if we embrace this concept, then we have forgotten all the principles and core mission of our IPTAY organization.
IPTAY was founded on these principles and we can embrace the concept of IPTAY even more today simply because of the escalating costs of Athletic related expenses.
With the increased revenue received, we can move forward with improving our infrastructures, upgrade current facilities and continue our support of scholarships and Vickery Hall. Providing these services to our student-athletes and coaches is critical to our success.
Finally, I’d like to share that you, as donors, have helped us take IPTAY through a long overdue change and have helped significantly to keep IPTAY on the threshold of excellence.
It is not our department’s attitude to have diminshed goals next year. I do not think you, as our donors, want anything but the best for our student-athletes. I have coached at several institutions and realize the expectations at Clemson are very high; however, I would not want to be at a place that did not want to win. I know Clemson fans well enough to understand how they feel about their Tigers.
Thank each and every one of you for your support of Clemson.
November 17, 2019