BYU football quarterback sneak: BYU passers return to Provo to raise money for endowment

Published: Thursday, Sept. 2 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

"The recession has affected scholarship endowments just as it has affected every other type of fund that relies on investment returns," said BYU spokesman Michael Smart, speaking of academic scholarships. "Some scholarships are on hold. But because nearly every endowed scholarship is granted on a one-year basis, commitments to students have been upheld."

BYU weathered the storm better than most because it is less dependent on endowments, thanks to financial support through the LDS Church, Thorley said.

BYU's overall endowment, which includes athletic endowments (numbers are not released by the university), is separate from tithing dollars received. The athletic budget is also separate from tithing funds and is all self-generated.

"Endowing scholarships is a big priority for us right now," Tittle said. "It frees up a lot of other funds that can be used to help run the program. (It also) creates a philanthropic cycle of connecting to the past and the present. We've found that if people can see the value of their donation, and they can feel good about it, makes them want to be involved even more."

A full-ride athletic scholarship at BYU requires an initial $250,000 donation, Thorley said.

Currently, BYU has 254.7 scholarships available for 588 student athletes. Those scholarships range from 25 percent to a full ride (room, board, tuition and books) and can be broken up and shared among athletes, Tittle said.

BYU has nine fully endowed scholarships, with three for football. Another 45 athletic scholarships are partially endowed, with six of them for football.

There is also an endowment reservoir for maintenance on the Indoor Practice Facility and the Student Athlete Building.

During the 2008-09 year, the University awarded nearly 3,200 academic scholarships from 400 endowed scholarship funds, with large concentrations in the colleges of engineering, business and fine arts.

One of the first academic endowed scholarships was the Edwin Smith Hinckley Scholarship, which began in 1954 and is given to juniors or seniors.

Past recipients include Rex Lee, Mitt Romney, BYU's current academic vice president John Tanner and LDS Apostles Jeffrey R. Holland, D. Todd Christofferson and Neil L. Andersen

"Endowed scholarships have an extremely long-lasting impact," said Bruce Snow, executive director for LDS Philanthropies at BYU. "To borrow from Mormon history, it's sending back the wagons. As an alumnus, you've received such a great opportunity, a great education here, and now your desire to help others follow you, especially in these trying economic times, is very commendable."

Dan Paxton considers his time at BYU life-changing, and now he and his wife, Diana, are showing their thanks through two endowments — one for a female athlete and another for a married MBA student.

"In my mind, it's more than just a university," said Paxton, chairman of the Athletic Leadership Council at BYU. "It helps people grow and develop and mature and prepare themselves for life's work. It's more than just giving a donation; it's trying to give back what I received when I was there."

Fans and donors have been sponsoring their favorite teams as early as 1923, when Yale established, through an endowment, an award for the winner of a varsity football punting competition. Now, Yale has more than 60 athletic endowments, though the funds go toward transportation, recruiting, facilities, etc. — not individual students. Yale only awards need-based, not merit-based, scholarships.

On the other side of the country, Stanford offers 348 endowed scholarships to nearly 525 student athletes, with an endowment portfolio believed to be in the hundreds of millions.

"Arguably the Cardinal's most effective recruiting tool, endowed scholarships are the lifeblood of the athletic department and are often a determining factor when a recruited student-athlete is deciding which university to attend," according to a Stanford publication. Stanford declined to comment for the article.

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