Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Fred J. Galloway, EdD, Chair; Marcus Lam, PhD, Member; Deborah Kelly, DBA, Member;


fundraising, philanthropy, student-athletes, success


Intercollegiate athletic departments (ICAs) rely on philanthropic giving to remain relevant in the “arms race” that is college athletics. Donations provide the necessary resources (scholarships, upgraded facilities, etc.) to compete with rival programs for prospective student-athletes and fans. Previous research in ICA philanthropy has found that team success is one of the key factors driving donations to athletic programs. However, much of the research in this field has centered on athletic giving on a macro-level, focusing on the overall alumni population of an institution. While this research is important for colleges and universities, it misses on measuring the impact that success has on a key alumni subset for ICAs, former student-athletes.

To address the gap in the empirical literature, this cross-sectional study used data from the University of San Diego (USD) to quantitatively examine the athletic careers of all 295 former men’s basketball student-athletes and the impact that team and personal athletic success has had on their giving patterns as alumni. Utilizing logistic and multiple regression analysis, this study looked at whether select success metrics, including team championships and individual achievements, as well as other, non-success related variables (such as wealth and years since graduation) are correlated with philanthropic giving.

Study results revealed the significance of net worth in predicting whether an alum will donate (but not on the total amount of their giving) and that alumni who reside near campus after graduation donate more over their lifetime than their peers who do not. This study also showed that, for each additional year a student-athlete was a part of the program, their probability of donating increases by 6% - 8% and that, when ICAs do not have access to wealth information on donors, individual success on the court does have an impact on one’s likelihood to donate.

Taken together, findings from this study can help ICAs better understand the determinants of philanthropic giving and provide an analytical methodology that can be applied to data from their own institution; in effect, allowing them to more efficiently segment prospective athletic donors, become better stewards of their resources, and increase alumni giving participation.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies