Bellarmine Rising fundraising effort nears $10 million goal with two anonymous gifts

July 28, 2023

Students hold an ASUN banner at the announcement of Bellarmine's rise to DI
Two recent anonymous gifts totaling $350,000 from longtime Bellarmine supporters have pushed fundraising for Bellarmine Rising past the $9 million mark, closing in on the $10 million goal.
Bellarmine Rising is a strategic initiative announced in 2019 to elevate the university’s athletics program to NCAA Division I from Division II, expanding Bellarmine’s geographic reach to enhance its reputation and increase enrollment.
“Our teams represent how athletics, done the right way, can elevate a university and help it transform students’ lives through teamwork, leadership and community engagement,” Bellarmine President Susan M. Donovan said. 
“Bellarmine Rising allows us to share our commitment to a well-rounded student-athlete experience—and our commitment to academic excellence for all our students—with a larger audience than ever before. We are grateful to the donors who believe in our mission and who are supporting our rise to national prominence.”  
No money was diverted from academics to support the DI transition. The Bellarmine Rising plan capped the amount of university spending on athletics at the 2019 percentage and set a fundraising goal of $10 million to pay for the facility and equipment upgrades and operational expenses needed to compete at the higher level. 
The recent gifts of $250,000 and $100,000 are therefore crucial to the success of Bellarmine Athletics.
“We are so appreciative of the donors who have supported Bellarmine Rising,” said Scott Wiegandt, Athletics director. “We hold our student-athletes to a high standard both on and off the field of play, and with the help of our supporters we are able to provide them with the excellent facilities and academic assistance they need to succeed.”
Bellarmine rose to DI through an invitation from the ASUN Conference, whose member schools are based mostly in southeastern states, and began competing at that level in the 2020-21 school year. 
Schools that make the leap must go through a four-year transitional period before they are eligible to compete in the NCAA Tournament. But in only the second year, Bellarmine’s men’s basketball team vastly exceeded expectations and won the 2022 ASUN championship, igniting a national conversation about whether the NCAA’s rules should be changed.
The unusual situation generated 3.7 billion media impressions over seven days and coverage in national outlets including ESPN, The New York Times, CBS Sports, Yahoo, MSN, The Associated Press and USA Today. That exposure was exactly what Bellarmine leaders hoped for in making the transition.

“With proper oversight and a commitment to excellence on the court and in the classroom, athletics has the power to showcase strong, mission-driven academic institutions,” Donovan said. “Bellarmine’s rise to DI is allowing us to share the Bellarmine story on a larger stage than ever before.”

To make a gift to the Bellarmine Rising fund, visit the university's giving page and specify "Bellarmine Rising."


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