Raising Funds for College Athletics

Sonoma State University Finds a Unique way to Fund its Sports Programs

Innovation is a quality that is not only encouraged, but required, in the context of funding for college athletics. With funds being harder and harder to acquire, there has been a sharp rise in unique proposals and entrepreneurial pioneering when trying to increase the amount of money available to college athletes. Perhaps one of the most vanguard pioneers in the fiercely competitive field of college sports funding is Sonoma State University.

The saving grace of college athletics and new athletes can come in many forms—brand endorsements, private donations, a massive organization of fundraising carwashes. However, in the case of Sonoma State University, the knight in shining armor is not a knight at all. Instead, Sonoma State University has spearheaded the unconventional and unrivaled fundraising venture of using racehorses to raise money for the student athlete scholarship fund.

The proposition was constructed and carried out by Russ Gardiner, Sonoma State’s volunteer assistant athletic director for marketing and development. The two prized equines go by the names of Seawolf and Sonoma Slew. Now, the horses were not just wrangled and roped out of the Northern California countryside; no, both of the horses come from considerable and respectable lineage. Each horse was personally chosen by Tom Bachman, the proprietor of Pegasus Ranch located in Petaluma, California. Seawolf, named after the university’s mascot, is a formidable colt and offspring of Swiss Yodeler and My Thellie. Sonoma Slew is also a fierce competitor and a grandson to the powerful and prominent racing genes of Seattle Slew. Both of the horses will be trained and cared for by Mr. Bachman.

Essentially, students and supporters of Sonoma State athletics would be able to purchase 100 shares in each of the colts for $1,000 a piece. In turn, each share purchased would equate to a tax-deductible contribution to the Sonoma State Student Athlete Scholarship Fund.

The idea was such a success that all of the shares were sold out within the first week of the plan’s announcement. A plan to acquire a third horse has been set into motion to increase donations to the student athlete scholarship fund and keep school spirits high. Sonoma Slew and Seawolf are slated to race at many venues and tracks around the state of California.

In the historical context of school fundraising, Sonoma State University has engineered a way of raising money, increasing school support, and continuing the tradition of college athletics and competition with scholarship support. The use of Seawolf and Sonoma Slew as racehorses has the potential to not only increase student athlete funding, but also grow the notoriety of the Sonoma Seawolfs, Sonoma Slew, and Seawolf himself.

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