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$1M gift highlights culture of giving at Sun Devil Athletics

Sun Devil Stadium lit up at night
September 18, 2014

When Todd Graham and Ray Anderson pledged this week to give $1 million to a fundraising campaign to reinvent Sun Devil Stadium, they put a very public face on the strong culture of giving within Sun Devil Athletics.

Graham, ASU’s head football coach, and Anderson, ASU vice president for University Athletics and athletics director, each made a personal commitment to Sun Devil Athletics through individual $500,000 donations at a Sept. 15 press conference. The gifts come on the heels of 100 percent participation from athletic department employees in the Sun Devil Club’s annual fundraising campaign.

“I think you should know that last year, 160 people in this department gave money to what is going on in this building,” said Steve Butterfield, co-chairman of the stadium fundraising effort and board member with the Sun Devil Club. “People that work here every day are showing their leadership and commitment to the university.”

Cooper Jones, executive associate athletic director and executive director of the Sun Devil Club, says the concept of philanthropy – personally investing in the program – is a key element within the Halls of the Carson Center. Gifts to the Sun Devil Club go directly to support specific programs or can be targeted to the club’s general scholarship program.

“Philanthropy has become something that we understand and embrace,” Jones says. “Our office as a whole has seen that not only are the leaders of Sun Devil Athletics asking for people to be involved because of a specific metric, but because they are making a commitment themselves.”

Graham and Anderson’s gifts will go directly to the reinvention of Sun Devil Stadium, which began this past spring when approximately 5,700 seats were removed from the north end zone as a preliminary step toward transforming the stadium. On Wednesday it was announced that the effort also will include a 84,500-square-foot Student Athletic Facility to be located at the north end of the stadium. The facility will be integrated into the existing stadium structure, and will include office and administrative spaces, meeting rooms, support space, study rooms, storage and equipment space, locker rooms, lounge areas, athletic training areas and conference areas.

Jones says that the message sent by Graham and Anderson will go a long way to encourage others inside and outside of the athletic department to get involved.

“One of the things I point to is not only the significant investment from these families, but the relatively small window of time each family has been in Tempe,” he says. “Coach Graham has been here for three years, and Ray has only been with us for seven months. Here we’ve got employees that didn’t have to give like this, but wanted to. This is part of the culture we are building here. We have really looked high and low to find another athletic department that has had a scenario like this and we couldn’t find it.”