The 2014-15 academic year will go down as another historic one for the Baylor Bear Foundation, as Baylor Nation’s continued generosity produced an 11th consecutive record fund-raising year which in turn allowed the organization to fully cover the scholarship costs associated with Baylor’s 19-sport intercollegiate athletics program for the first time. All-told, the Bear Foundation raised $16.2 million during the recently completed fiscal year to surpass its previous high mark set just a year earlier by some $3.5 million.
"This year's record-breaking donor and fundraising totals demonstrate the passion Baylor Nation has for our student-athletes and teams," Baylor Vice President and Director of Athletics Ian McCaw said. "This success is a credit to our generous and loyal donors and the outstanding work of the Bear Foundation staff. It has been an exceptional year athletically that has been matched by our donors fully funding Baylor student-athlete scholarships for the first time."
The Bear Foundation enjoyed a record membership year in 2014-15, with 5,365 donors contributing to the scholarship needs of Baylor's student-athletes, a 15.7 percent increase over the previous year's total, and the organization is on pace to eclipse the 6,000-member mark early in 2015-16 as 5,920 accounts already have been established. The Bear Foundation’s year-end totals do not reflect any capital gifts received during the year, as the gift each year includes only annual giving, endowment interest and suite revenue.
In its record-breaking 11-year run in support of Baylor Athletics, the Bear Foundation's annual support for BU student-athletes has more than quadrupled from $3.312 million in 2004-05 to 2014-15's record-breaking figure; and over the last three years alone annual support has increased by a staggering $6.9 million. The Bear Foundation topped the $4 million mark for the first time in 2006-07 and reached $5 million the following year (2007-08). Giving surpassed $10 million for the first time in 2013-14 with a then-record total of $12.7 million.
"These are days that we dreamed about 10 years ago when I was given the opportunity to become a member of the Executive Committee of the Bear Foundation," Mark Petersen, 2014-15 Baylor Bear Foundation president said. "Our goal has always been to help fund scholarships for our student-athletes with the stretch goal to be able to fully fund those scholarships. We are so grateful to our volunteers and members who have worked tirelessly to help us achieve these goals. The Bear Foundation's work, however, is not done, because if we want our teams to enjoy continued success we must provide the necessary resources for them to achieve at a high level."
In 2014-15, Baylor won a school-record eight Big 12 championships and for the second straight year saw 16 of its teams reach postseason play. BU's eight 2014-15 Big 12 titles ranked second among league schools to Texas’ 10 crowns, and pushed the Bears' all-time Big 12 total to 65 championships, which ranks third among current Big 12 institutions behind Texas (150) and Oklahoma (67).
Baylor football won its second consecutive Big 12 championship en route to a school-record fifth consecutive bowl bid and the second 11-win season in program history. Other Baylor teams to win regular-season Big 12 titles in 2014-15 included women's basketball, men's tennis and women’s tennis, while league postseason championships were claimed in women's basketball, women's tennis, women's golf and equestrian. In addition, Baylor's acrobatics and tumbling team captured its first-ever national team championship, women's golf finished as the NCAA runner-up for the first time in program history, men's tennis reached the NCAA semifinals for the first time since 2007, and the equestrian team advanced to the NCEA semifinals. BU's women's basketball and women's tennis team advanced to the Elite Eight round of their respective NCAA championships, and women's indoor track & field placed seventh at the NCAA meet to register its highest finish since 1999.
"We are grateful for the continued generosity from our membership which has allowed the organization to fully fund the scholarship needs of all Baylor student-athletes for the first time ever," Baylor Associate Athletics Director/Annual Giving Doug McNamee said. "In order to ensure the financial health, stability and success of Baylor Athletics in an ever-changing NCAA landscape, it is critical that the loyal support of our Baylor Foundation members continues."
Individuals looking to join the Baylor Bear Foundation may call the Foundation office at (254) 710-2582.