Aggie Pride Magazine
sat down with Jennifer Thomas, the new associate athletic director for development,
to learn more about her background and her goals for supporting the 325
student-athletes on campus. Thomas, who
played women’s basketball at the University of North Carolina, is in charge of
fundraising and corporate sales for Aggie Athletics. Her main goal is to
provide student-athletes with the scholarship funding needed to enroll and earn
Q: Why is
fundraising so important?
A: “It’s important
because you’re giving student-athletes who technically wouldn’t have a chance
to compete or to go to school; you’re giving them that opportunity. It’s not about the dollar value. I think people sometimes shy away from giving
because they think, “Oh, I have to give $1,000 or $5,000.” But $50, $25—it’s just making that commitment
to help a student-athlete reach their goals.
We say we want to win, but you have to put your money where your mouth
is. We don’t have the funding to maybe
go out and recruit like Elon or UNC Greensboro because of our budget. So having donations come in helps our coaches
purse those student-athletes who can get it done in the classroom and on the
fields, courts, or whatever.”
Q: What do those
fundraising dollars go toward?
A: “Scholarships. Right now the focus is scholarships. We want to be able to fully fund all of the
maximum allotted scholarships that the NCAA allows us to have. That’s the goal, that’s the push right
now. Of course, we want to help our
coaches with their operating budgets, but definitely the push right now is
scholarships. We met our goals last
year, but with increasing tuition and with us trying to recruit bigger,
stronger, faster athletes, you’re going to need to meet certain new goals,
higher goals. Any amount helps. Of course we want people to be able to come
at the $100 level and higher to be a part of the AAF and receive certain
benefits, but we’ll never turn away a donation.
To fully fund scholarships would be $3.5 million. With the AAF, we’re about providing the
scholarships and that’s our goal for this year is to really stress the
importance of scholarships and that drive.”
Q: How else can
A&T fans help support athletics besides just giving?
A: “We recognize everyone
does not have the means. Just coming out
to the games and showing your support, being positive and being a center of
influence. You may not be able to give, but encourage your friends or people
who may have the capacity to support the AAF and our student-athletes. Being a mentor helps. If you have a business and you can come and
talk to one of our track and field athletes about entrepreneurship or about how
to jumpstart a business, that’s a way to give back. That’s a problem with a lot of younger alums.
They feel like because they don’t have it, and they’re trying to get started in
their own careers that the only way to give is through money. We’re not looking for just money. Come back to letterwinners’ day, come back
to events we have because we want you to be around and see what we’re doing
here because there are some great things happening. We don’t want to have that disconnect. Any way you can help, whether it’s
financially supporting the AAF or coming out and supporting the team or your
former sport, that’s it right there.
Q: In your
efforts to help raise funds for A&T student-athletes, you work with
corporate sales as well as with donors, correct?