Coaches raise money, awareness for charities amidst madness

Published: Saturday, March 16 2013 6:40 p.m. MDT

BYU Head Coach Dave Rose during the second half. The BYU Basketball team defeated Southeastern Oklahoma State 103-57 on Friday October 26, 2012 in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah.

Jaren Wilkey, BYU

COLUMBUS, Ohio — For some charities, being tied to prominent basketball coaches can mean thousands of dollars, and perhaps even more importantly because it leads to even more donations, an exponential increase in awareness.

At the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, for example, $100,000 equates to about 1,000 nights of care for families of seriously ill children, said Ryan Wilkins, the charity's director of community relations and marketing. The charity was able to provide more nights of care than expected over the past year because Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta directed $100,000 its way when he won the 2012 Infiniti Coaches' Charity Challenge.

Matta leveraged his role as a big-time college coach beyond the game again this week when he won the 2013 challenge for a second straight year, putting another $100,000 into the Ronald McDonald House.

Coaches like Matta and BYU's Dave Rose do more than chase bids to the NCAA tournament, which begins Tuesday with the First Four and turns into full March Madness on Thursday. They also put time and energy into charity work, which along with their name recognition and positions can be a powerful combination for good in their communities.

Using their platform

The public presence and increasing ubiquity of coaches in the media allows them to help more than just the players on their team. Wilkins said the public support of Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer is a major boost to the Ronald McDonald House charities, along with radio promotions by Matta.

"Using their platform to do good helps us build even more support," Wilkins said. "Those kinds of things make a world of difference to us."

Rose has talked about the Children with Cancer Christmas Foundation on his radio and television shows and has substantial input on decisions made by the charity, foundation founder Mac Boyter said.

Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith, a finalist in the Infiniti Coaches' Charity Challenge this week, underscored the importance of using his public platform to make a difference.

“To me it’s important because we are visible due to our careers," Haith said. "As coaches we can help raise awareness and help other folks learn about the program so they will consider getting involved as well.”

Fan voting not only shows support for a coach and the coach's program but also for the charity helping community members. Being a finalist in the competition only heightens awareness of a coach's charity.

“It’s great and it speaks volumes to our fans and their interest in supporting the Boys and Girls Clubs," Haith said. "Fans all over the country want to help out and when you add that element of school pride and competition, everyone wins.”

Rose and his wife Cheryl Rose not only attach their names to a charity but actively work to support it, Boyter said. Dave Rose's hands-on approach, including shopping for gifts for children at Christmastime with his coaching staff, showcases his true commitment and dedication to the charity, Boyter said.

"For many of these families, it's financially impossible to always have food on the table, a roof over their head or even have Christmas," Rose said. "Through the foundation, Cheryl and I want to help create a Christmas experience that they will never forget. This is an organization we really believe in and if having our team involved makes a difference then we're happy to do it."

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