Assessing Fundraising Practices of Intercollegiate Athletic Departments: An Empirical Analysis of Tiered Reward Systems

Javonte U. Lipsey – University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Nels Popp – University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Jonathan A. Jensen – University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Patrick Gray – University North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Due to the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, rising expenses within the industry of intercollegiate athletics, and the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a growing need for practitioners to reexamine their fundraising practices in order to increase revenue. One fundraising strategy that is commonly utilized among intercollegiate athletic programs in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the concept of tiered reward systems. Currently, there is no published research or empirical analysis that examines the structure and pricing strategies of these systems. For this reason, this study provides practitioners with valuable insight to the current economic landscape of tiered reward systems within NCAA Division I FBS programs. Institutional theory was utilized as a lens to examine tiered reward systems strategies across athletic departments. Methodologically, a multiple regression analysis was conducted to examine the relationships between market variables and tiered reward systems at 121 FBS institutions. Ultimately, this study revealed the number of tiered reward levels are not associated with the identified market variables. Further, total university enrollment, all-time NCAA men’s basketball appearances, and all-time football bowl game appearances significantly predicted tiered reward level pricing.