ETSU unveils fundraising initiative, tours donors around football stadium

Zach Vance • Mar 9, 2017 at 11:27 PM

With bleachers set on both sides and the press box elevated high above, it’s now easy to envision a breezy fall afternoon watching the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers playing football in their new $26.6 million stadium.

On Thursday afternoon, roughly 60 potential donors toured the Bucs’ new facility before gathering at the ETSU/MSHA Athletics Center as a new grassroots fundraising campaign called “Embrace Excellence Initiatives” was unveiled.

The new effort, which includes three ways to donate, is aimed at providing various resources for multiple ETSU teams, not just the football program.

“It’s about giving our student athletes the opportunity to experience great success, but also to have people in the community enjoy these events, sports and competitions,” said ETSU Athletic Director Richard Sander.

“The more success we have, we really need to build on that.”

For those worried all the school’s investment was going solely into the gridiron and corresponding team, Sanders pointed to the numerous trophies won this year by the tennis, soccer and basketball programs.

Sander said the athletic department had already raised roughly $43 million to invest and hopes to add another $15 million to eventually transform ETSU into the “preeminent mid-major program” in the country.

“We need to raise another $15 million for some facilities and for some excellence funds so that when opportunities come our way, we have the resources to take advantage of them,” Sander said. 

The three ways to donate include the 1911 Legacy, the Letterwinner Legacy and the Family Legacy.

The 1911 Legacy will consist of 1,911 donors contributing a minimum of $111 to be recognized on a 36-foot wide and 18-foot high wall on the north end of the stadium. Donor wall inclusion will provide up to 30 characters of recognition.

All former student athletes can participate in the Letterwinner Legacy by donating $1,500 toward having their name, sport, position and jersey number imprinted on a nameplate that would be located inside their respective locker room.

The Family Legacy requires a minimum of $5,500 to have a plaque implanted beneath one of the 40 trees surrounding campus. Donors have can up to four generations of immediate family printed on the plaques.

ETSU alumni Guy Trawick and his mother Eileen traveled from their home in Raleigh, North Carolina, to be in attendance for the pitch.

After a speech from Sander and a video presentation, Trawick immediately handed over his envelope for The Family Legacy plaque.

Between 1969 and 1984, Guy Trawick and his four brothers all played in succession for ETSU’s football program.

The second alumnus to hand over his donation was former Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.

“I’m just excited about this,” Ramsey said. “We have ETSU at a high level right now, and just like Dr. Sander said, we can’t let up. We need to take it to the next level, and the opportunity to buy one of these legacy trees just fits with me perfectly.”

Ramsey’s three daughters, his wife, mother and grandmother were all graduates of ETSU.

Scheduled to be completed before ETSU’s Sept. 2 home game, the new stadium will consist of 7,000 total seats on the west and east sides of the stadium, with a horseshoe-shaped grass embankment on the north side.

A second phase of construction following the 2017 campaign will include adding approximately 3,000 seats along the horseshoe stretch of grass.

To learn more about the fundraiser, visit www.givebucs.com.

Email Zach Vance at zvance@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Zach Vance on Twitter at @ZachVanceJCP. Like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/ZachVanceJCP.

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