Aug. 30, 2005
BERKELEY - A lead gift of $12.5 million to the University of California's Department of Athletics sets the stage for a major fundraising initiative designed to eventually raise $40 million for an endowment benefiting the five aquatic sports at Cal.
The donation comes through the generosity of Doris and Don Fisher (Class of 1950), Chris and Warren Hellman (Class of 1955), Janet (Class of 1968) and Rick Cronk (Class of 1965), and Carol (Class of 1966) and Ned Spieker (Class of 1966). The purpose of the gift is to enhance world-class teams in men's and women's swimming and diving, and water polo through the recruitment and retention of top athletes and coaches.
"This gift sets a benchmark for the future funding of sports at Cal," said Athletic Director Sandy Barbour. "These four families have been actively involved in supporting Cal Athletics a majority of their lives. Today they ask others who are passionate about Cal Aquatics to once and for all help build a lasting funding base for our aquatic programs."
Fisher, Hellman, Cronk and Spieker all competed for Cal men's swimming and water polo teams in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1987, the four families launched a similar initiative that eventually created the Bear Splash Club Endowment with $2 million.
This new gift acknowledges Cal's commitment to excellence both in its academic and athletic pursuits, while underscoring the importance of donors to the success of each student athlete competing at the University.
Since the men's water polo team, Cal's first aquatic program, was formed in 1902, Cal Aquatics have featured 13 team national championships, 59 individual NCAA titles, 12 NCAA relay titles, 753 All-Americans, 91 Olympians and 58 Olympic medals.
The University of California is regarded as the top public institution in the world, and the department of intercollegiate athletics strives to provide the highest standard of opportunities for student athletes. This gift will allow Cal Aquatics to make programmatic enhancements such as awarding the maximum in NCAA scholarships annually, retaining the best head and assistant coaches, maintaining a high level of student academic performance, working toward the best graduation rates in the country, continuing the development of the diving program, and the enhancement of our competition facilities to a standard that supports intercollegiate, regional, national and international competitions.
Costs of operating a world-class program are increasing rapidly. The athletic department faces new economic pressures that are a permanent budget condition, not a temporary crisis. The intent of this gift is to officially launch an initiative to reach a $40 million endowment goal within the next nine years, which will allow the department to create a permanent financial base for operations and scholarships for the programs by 2013-2014.