Every little bit counts, especially when it comes to raising money for Winston-Salem State athletics.
Since March, the athletics program has been promoting its Team 250 Campaign with an ambitious goal of raising $250,000. The campaign ended on June 30 with the final tally close to $138,000.
George Knox, the interim athletics director, said he was thrilled with how the alumni, fans and the community stepped up to help.
“We didn’t reach our intended goal, but there’s a lot we can work with and the money will go a long way toward new uniforms and other expenses,” Knox said.
The biggest expense facing WSSU was the rollover to Under Armour for all uniforms as mandated by the CIAA.
The league ended its apparel deal with Russell Athletics on July 1, 2018, and agreed to a partnership with Under Armour and BSN Sports to be the exclusive apparel, footwear and equipment brand for the CIAA.
This meant that schools had a three-year window to comply and transition to the Under Armour brand. Knox said every WSSU team should be in its new uniforms for this coming season, thanks to the campaign.
“We now have new football helmets (Shutt brand) and will break out new uniforms for football this fall,” Knox said. “We’ve also transitioned all of our uniforms for all of our other sports.”
Knox estimated the cost of transitioning all of its equipment and uniforms to be in the $500,000 range.
The Team 250 Campaign was a big help.
“I’m ecstatic with how it went,” Knox said about the fund-raising efforts. “The support from our donors, fans and supporters of Winston-Salem State really gave the Team 250 Campaign a boost.”
From prominent alum Stephen A. Smith, who gave $25,000 to the Chris Paul Foundation’s $50,000, the fundraiser picked up steam this summer. Paul’s parents, Robin and Charles, attended WSSU and they both still live in Lewisville.
Others who helped included William Hayes, a former WSSU football player who has played 11 years in the NFL, who gave a little more than $2,000.
Also, Randolph Childress’ family gave to the cause.
Childress is a former Wake Forest basketball star who is an assistant coach for the Deacons.
James DuBose, an assistant athletics director who headed the campaign, said no donation was too small.
He told a story about a part-time worker for Show Pros, the local company that helps run events at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex, Bowman Gray Stadium and the Gaines Center.
“She saw my pamphlet about the Team 250 Campaign and literally gave me all the change in her pocket to help us out,” DuBose said.
“That’s something I’ll never forget because she wanted to make sure and contribute even if it wasn’t a lot of money.”
DuBose said seeing the supporters of WSSU athletics is a rallying point.
“It shows our student-athletes that we want them to succeed, and they can see the support that came with this campaign,” DuBose said.
“People get so caught up in the wins and losses and maybe don’t understand the behind the scenes things that go on to make an athletic program successful.”
DuBose said his plan is to unveil the new football uniforms at the CIAA Media Day on July 18 in Salem, Va.
As the next school year approaches for 2019-20 WSSU is off to a good start when it comes to helping finance athletics.
The Team 250 Campaign didn’t produce any victories, but it will definitely help, according to DuBose.
“I think this kind of sets the tone for this coming season and our student-athletes can be proud of how much support they received from the community and alums,” DuBose said. “I’m very pleased with how it all turned out since we rolled this out in March.”