Save UNCW Track meets fundraising goal to continue at least one more season

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Save UNCW Track surpassed its fundraising goal by more than $5,000 to continue the university’s track and field programs through the 2015-16 season.

After a widespread effort to raise $255,781, UNCW and Save UNCW Track will now begin to tackle the February 2016 deadline to raise $1 million to secure the funds necessary for facility upgrades on campus to meet an agreement reached between the two groups this spring, according to a UNCW spokeswoman.

Save UNCW Track had until May 31 to raise within 10 percent of $250,000, per an agreement reached with the university in February.

Photo courtesy Joe Browning
Photo courtesy Joe Browning.

Related story: Save UNCW Track reaches agreement with university to keep program running

UNCW Interim Chancellor William Sederburg released a statement in February saying while the university still intended to cut the programs beginning with the 2015-16 season, it would allow a private effort to raise funds for the programs’ operations and upgrades to UNCW’s track and field facilities. A successful fundraising effort would ensure the programs’ continuation and, according to the agreement, not require substantial fundraising in subsequent years.

UNCW officials and Save UNCW Track reached the agreement for a chance to come up with the necessary funds to help keep the program from being eliminated after the athletics department announced in December 2014, proposed changes to its portfolio of sports offered at the Division I level.

Related story: UNCW finalizes cuts to track and field, men’s cross-country programs

The agreement required actual gifts – not pledges – to be in hand by May 31, with UNCW  pledging to supplement any shortfall after the first $250,000 is raised.

The agreement also states at least $800,000 must be raised – again, with gifts in hand – for renovation of the track and field complex, which is expected to cost $1 million. These funds must be raised by Feb. 1, 2016. It states the facility issue is of “paramount concern” to UNCW and if the facility cannot be restored, it is unlikely that the university will be in a position to sustain the program beyond 2015-16.

“This was a terrific effort, and we would like to thank the donors who supported this endeavor, including the running community, our students, alumni, local business owners, corporate partners and the friends and family of our student-athletes,” UNCW Spokeswoman Tara Romanella said in a news release.

“This was the first step toward preserving a future for this program; the next step is securing the funds necessary to renovate a facility worthy of hosting intercollegiate competition,” the news release states. “This will require the identification of major donors capable of making gift commitments to fund the renovation. Today, though, we want to acknowledge the accomplishment of Save UNCW Track and their partnership with UNCW.

“We look forward to a successful 2015-16 track and field season.”