During these critical and unprecedented times, more than 8,000 University of Georgia donors opted to gift $22.1 million to the COVID-19 UGA Athletics Fund during the 2020 football season.
Donors were offered the opportunity to receive a full refund of both ticket payments and Hartman Fund contributions for the 2020 season that featured just three home games with Sanford Stadium at only 20-25 percent capacity. Hartman Fund donors exercised the right to a refund, which required the Athletic Association to refund $13.5 million in contributions; however, $6.4 million of refund eligible ticket payments were converted to donations benefiting the COVID-19 UGA Athletics Fund. Additionally, a total of $15.7 million in donations previously made to the Hartman Fund that were eligible for a refund were also philanthropically allocated to the COVID-19 UGA Athletics Fund.
“We want to express our sincere thanks to our supporters and their unwavering commitment to the G,” said J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks. “We are committed to providing the very best experience for our student-athletes as they strive to excel academically and athletically for the University of Georgia, and the continued generosity of our donors in these challenging times sustains our efforts. They continue to show why Bulldog Nation is the best fan base in college athletics.”
Bulldog supporters including Hartman Fund donors answered the call and greatly impacted the University of Georgia Athletic Association’s ability to manage the significant financial shortfall brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 season was unlike any other, and the Bulldog fans navigated the challenging modifications of tailgating, ticketing and travel to continue their loyal support of Georgia’s student-athletes.
The COVID-19 UGA Athletics Fund was established to give donors an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the 500+ student-athletes by providing philanthropic support to help offset the costs of keeping competition and practices safe during a pandemic for them as well as the staff working and fans attending the events. Furthermore, the COVID-19 UGA Athletics Fund helped maintain the Athletic Association’s commitment to an exceptional student-athlete experience. The mission-critical resources that benefit the student-athletes include academic scholarships and support for extended eligibility due to loss of season along with ensuring their mental and physical health remain strong during the ongoing pandemic.
Football ticket purchases and Hartman Fund contributions typically generate approximately $62 million a year. Thanks to the generosity of the Bulldog supporters along with the revenue associated with ticket sales, Georgia was able to retain $31.9 million to support its student-athletes. This represented UGAAA donors allowing the department to maintain 51.4% of football ticket related revenue with a 20-25% stadium capacity.