Annual Blue-Gold Game to raise money for Rockne Athletics Fund
Bella Laufenberg | Friday, April 22, 2022
Happening once every year during the spring semester, the Blue-Gold Game usually provides students and community members with a break from the hustle and bustle of the final weeks of school. This year, however, the scrimmage will also serve as an important source of funding for the Rockne Athletics Fund.
This fund, which is one of the University’s unrestricted pools, provides funding for any and all student-athlete needs, according to athletics annual giving director William Mitchell. The money is typically used for facility upgrades and other miscellaneous team needs. The majority of the fund, Mitchell said, usually goes to student-athlete financial aid.
“Last year, 90% of the donations were used to pay for student-athlete scholarships,” he said.
Another opportunity the Rockne Fund affords to student-athletes is foreign travel, Mitchell explained.
“Many of [the teams] use the extra dollars for foreign travel, so their student-athletes can experience foreign places around the world,” Mitchell said. “A lot of our student-athletes aren’t able to do [study abroad], so this helps them out garner that type of experience.”
The fund became unrestricted in 2015, which means the money that gets donated does not have to be tied to a specific need. This makes the Rockne Athletics Fund unique, Mitchell explained, because donors can choose to specify their gift to the sport or group to which they are most attached.
“One unique thing that about Rockne is if you make a gift to Rockne, you’re able to designate your gift to a specific support,” he said. “For example, if you’re a former women’s basketball player and you’re very passionate about giving back to the program, as the monogram winner, you make your gift to Rockne in the women’s basketball program.”
A monogram winner is an alumnus or alumna who was involved with student athletics and chosen to be a part of the Monogram Club — a group dedicated to developing community, fellowship and service while upholding the legacy of Notre Dame athletics, according to their website. Roughly 30% of the funds raised so far this fiscal year have been from monogram winners, Mitchell said.
Otherwise, he said the athletic directors divide the money by whatever the department needs the most.
Last year, the fund brought in a record-breaking $12.54 million from donors such as former athletes, alumni and other fans. The fund has about 2,700 contributing members, Mitchell said.
Mitchell said this year the fund is on track to break its previous record. He said he was grateful for how generous the donors are, especially coming out of a pandemic.
“We’re on pace to pass $12.5 million and to have another record year, and I think that’s pretty incredible considering we’re coming out of a pandemic,” he said. “I think it’s important to be mindful that many people are coming off some hard times, and they may not have those extra dollars. But the Notre Dame family just, in general, has really stepped up.”
Mitchell said the cost of a Blue-Gold Game ticket, about $8 to $10, will go directly to the Rockne Fund.
One of the benefits of the Blue-Gold game is the community can experience the fun of a Notre Dame football game without the hefty price tag, he said. Local South Bend students in kindergarten through eighth grade all received two free tickets to the game, along with discounts on more tickets if requested.
“Most of these kids couldn’t afford to come to a Notre Dame football game in general, so, to me, it means a lot that we’re considering the South Bend community and inviting them,” he said.
Overall, Mitchell said he hopes the Rockne Fund can continue giving Notre Dame student-athletes the high-quality experience the athletic department is known for.
“The athletic department has five core values — those being community, education, excellence, faith and tradition,” he explained. “We speak to that quite often, and I think Rockne helps make sure that we keep all those pillars in place and uphold these values.”