TigerNet Exclusive: IPTAY CEO says organization facing serious times
|Tuesday, August 4, 2020, 8:01 AM- -|
IPTAY CEO Davis Babb sent an email to donors Monday admitting that the fundraising organization is facing challenging times as the university deals with the fallout from the ongoing COVID-19 situation. In an exclusive interview with TigerNet, Babb also said he is hopeful that IPTAY can rise to the challenge despite the difficult times and not fall short of funding requirements.
In the email sent to donors, Babb said that potential refunds could cause a shortfall.
“Annual contributions are vital to the support of the Clemson Tigers and fund millions of dollars in yearly expenses,” the email stated. “These dollars are needed to support athletic scholarships, student-athlete enrichment services, and build and enhance facilities. When looking at the entire scope of services that IPTAY provides through donor funding, the annual commitment we have to Clemson athletics to support the basic needs of our student-athletes is approximately $38M. With the upcoming refund options, there is the potential that IPTAY could lose millions of dollars in financial support this year and run the risk of impacting the dollars needed to provide direct, annual support for our student-athletes. Below is a snapshot of annual expenses that we must continue to cover to aid in the support of our nearly 500 student-athletes.
“Due to the ongoing effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic, our 19-sport program is being presented with financial challenges unlike we have seen in recent memory. If we are asked to refund a significant amount of donations, there is the potential based on the outcome of our fall seasons that we will face the possibility of falling significantly short of meeting our funding requirements. Through these challenging days ahead we will continue our work of providing the necessary resources to support the academic, athletic, and personal development of Clemson University student-athletes and the competitive success of Clemson athletics.”
In a conversation with TigerNet, Babb said he wants people to understand the seriousness of the situation facing IPTAY and the reason he is asking for donors to allow the organization to retain the funds.
“I think the main thing would be that IPTAY is the largest revenue provider to the athletic department budget right now,” Babb said. “When you look at donations over an annual basis, plus the revenue generated from football tickets, you have revenue that totals over 50% of the overall budget. So, with all of that said, it's just vital that we try to help people understand the seriousness, if you will, of kind of the times we're in from our perspective. Now that said, I completely understand these times. I mean, none of us have been through these, and people are hurting and they're struggling, and so never will I minimize any of that at all. And so, as we get further into the communication, and there'll be more coming in the coming days, we're going to give donors, and season ticket holders options for refunds, and for partial refunds. We'll be explaining all of those things, but we're just asking folks to understand that we are truly self-supporting.
“We are only as strong as our donor base. This maybe sounds like I'm rolling back the clock, but this organization was created with grassroots support, and it has grown and grown. And we've been asked to do more, but bottom line, one of the key reasons that this is such in my view, a special organization and school, is that our donors answer the call. And this is just one of those times when it's really a challenge. And whether it be, again, ticket revenue, donation revenue, we're asking people to really think about allowing us to retain the dollars to keep supporting the student athletes. And maybe that's the biggest thing to keep the student athletes at the center of this, because football or not, 10 games, 11 games, five games who knows what is going to be decided.”
Babb then said that IPTAY has fixed expenses that transcend the gains on the fields and courts of competition.
“Because we're talking about academic support and life skills and nutrition and counseling and strength and conditioning, and all those things,” he said. “When we have comments in the PAC-12 about demands from student athletes, I hear that loud and clear. It's interesting that our donors are really raising or contributing funds, to provide a lot of those benefits to help young people prepare for what's happening now and in the future. And so that's why I think our donors are in a perfect spot at a perfect time to really talk about making a difference in an organization, in a school and these young kids. There's never been a time like this.”
What is next on IPTAY’s scheduled of keeping IPTAY donors informed?
“I know that as soon as we get some clarity on the stadium capacity issue, I know that the intention, obviously, is to get that out. Let people know exactly what we're talking about,” Babb said. “I know we've seen a lot of things mentioned but we have to wait on a further break down on the schedule. Dates and capacity, not only for inside the stadium, but what our capacity allowances will be in our suites and our parking lots. It's so interesting when you look at how our donors give, the experience is so much a part of this. Where people sit is one thing, who they park near, and how long they've parked near them, is perhaps even more important. And so parking, and who gets in, and how do we keep people safe is absolutely critical.
“I think the next communication will be, ‘Alright. Now we know a little bit more about capacities.’ And then, shortly after that, I think you'll see the rollout of, ‘Okay. Now that we know those bits of information, here's how we're going to decide who gets inside the stadium.’ It won't be a hundred percent, so, in the stadium so how do we decide how many tickets people get? How many season ticket holders have access to games? And then just how we can make it the fairest and most transparent for everybody. So, obviously, the higher the capacity allowance for people we can help. Our goal is to help as many season tickets families as possible, see the games. Obviously with reduced amount of tickets, that's just an absolute at this point, but how do we get as many folks and households in the game as possible. We have a plan and I think we're ready, but we can't really roll it out until we know exactly what pieces to the puzzle we're going to put in, based on the capacity numbers we're given.”
The good news, according to Babb, is that Clemson people have always risen to the occasion.
“I think people are just chomping at the bit to try to get out and see sporting events, college or pro. And I think it's an outlet, and it is entertainment, but the college experience is just so huge,” he said. “So, I think people want to get out. And this fan base, our donor base is just awesome. I mean, they're just incredible. And I believe that they'll, if given the opportunity, they'll be back and supporting the team.”