The Colorado Buffaloes are experiencing quite a good financial year. Athletic improvements are in motion, funds are coming in, and many are fired up about the foreseeable future. Some of the changes occurring presently within athletics might be due to a change in leadership, as the athletics department hired their current Athletics Director, Rick George, not too long ago.
Within that short period of time, the Colorado Buffaloes accomplished much in bringing to life a positive future. The most important venture within CU athletics is currently the $143 million project to improve various athletics facilities. George has overseen much since his first day on the job to pave the way for financial success at the university. Under his leadership, facility upgrades for the project were approved, the project broke ground, and a major contribution was given for the project.
A little over a year ago, the University of Colorado hired its new athletics director, Rick George. George had a history at CU as the director of football operations from 1987-1991. He originally left the Colorado Buffaloes for Vanderbilt University, where he spent eight years (1991-98) as the associate athletic director for external operations in conjunction with overseeing the football program. From 1998-2003, George served as President and CEO of the Fore!Kids Foundation, a 501c3 organization that raised money for children’s charities via golf-related events.
He also worked for the PGA Tour as president of the Champions Tour from 2003-08, and as the executive vice president for championship management his last three years there. George’s most recent job before becoming athletics director was with the Texas Rangers from 2010-2013; he was initially its chief operating officer, then received a promotion to president of business operations in February of 2013. Upon accepting the athletics director position with the Colorado Buffaloes, he agreed to a 5-year contract and officially started the job on August 12, 2013.
In December 2013, the CU Board of Regents unanimously approved the proposal to upgrade athletics facilities on campus, valued at $143 million. This plan was an update from the $170 million facilities proposal presented in February 2013. Details of the new and improved proposal included a 173,000 square-foot addition to Folsom Stadium’s northeast corner, as well as an indoor football practice facility and two new outdoor practice fields, which will be built east of the stadium on Franklin Field. According to the proposal, the upgrades will be funded solely by the athletic department and by auxiliary, non-state funds.
Back in April, CU announced its plans to break ground on May 12th on the project. The news came very carefully worded in a press release, as fundraising needed to extend another month. In order for groundbreaking to begin, the athletic department needed to bring roughly $47 million to the table, which is a third of the total cost of the project. George, chancellor Phil DiStefano, and President Bruce Benson were confident in securing the funds by the specified date. According to the press release, the “completion of the majority of the project is expected prior to the Fall 2015 football season.”
A year has passed since George was hired, during which he accomplished much in terms of athletics fundraising. George recently announced plans to receive a major gift that would be more than the required $47.6 million in gifts. “We’ll exceed that number, once that gift’s papered and done in the next two weeks,” George said. At this point, no one has knowledge of the donor nor the amount donated. George believes that this is the only the beginning of a fundraising success.
In support of these plans, George also indicated a balanced budget for this fiscal year. This balance is a major step in the right direction, as this is the first year in several that the athletics department hasn’t expected to start the year off with more debt. George strongly believes that more money will be made by June 30th of next year, as paying down the debt would be a priority.
The future of the Colorado Buffaloes athletics department is a promising one. With the actions Rick George has taken since his first day, CU has only seen the tip of the opportunity iceberg. From this milestone project to a balanced budget, CU will excel for years to come.
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