Patriot Club Plans to Expand Membership, Fund-Raising Efforts

Posted: June 28, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

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Since coming to George Mason last fall from North Carolina State University where he held a similar position, James “Buzzy” Correll III, associate athletic director and executive director of the Patriot Club, continues to be impressed with the dedication of the club’s members. “They are very proud of what Mason has accomplished in only a short amount of time,” he says. “We just need to build on that foundation and get many more folks like our current donor base on board with us.”

The Patriot Club, which was founded in 1976, acts as the primary fund-raising body for George Mason’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. The club is in the process of expanding its membership base and increasing the amount of money it brings in to fund a number of initiatives. Monies raised by the club are used to fund annual scholarships for student-athletes, maintain existing facilities, and, in the future, construct new facilities.

The Patriot Club also works to enhance the visibility of the athletics program while searching out sponsors from local businesses and private individuals. Annual giving levels begin at $25 and go all the way up to $16,000—the “Super Patriot” level—approximately the amount of an in-state athletic scholarship. The Super Patriot level will be introduced during the 2005-06 academic year.

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James “Buzzy” Correll

“The NCAA limits the number of scholarships each sport may offer, but it is up to each institution to determine how these scholarships are funded,” Correll says. “Although some of our sports are able to offer the NCAA maximum number of scholarships, many are not. It is the Patriot Club’s charge to continue to raise additional annual funds so that all of our varsity sports may offer the NCAA maximum number of scholarships and be able to compete on an equal playing field with any school in the country.”

Members of the Patriot Club, currently numbering around 560, receive team media guides, regular newsletters, invitations to special events throughout the year, priority seating at Mason athletic events, and additional gifts and benefits according to their specific giving level. Despite all the tangible material benefits, however, Correll believes that donors also like the fact that they are providing valuable support to George Mason’s athletics programs.

“We believe that the greatest benefit of someone making a contribution is knowing that they are providing a student-athlete with the opportunity to attend George Mason on an athletic scholarship. Championships begin with scholarships, and with more donors and more dollars, our chance at [earning] more championships certainly increases. Additionally, many of our student-athletes are the first in their family to have the opportunity to attend college because of an athletic scholarship.”

Correll has big plans for the future of the Patriot Club. “I believe there is the potential to move from 500 to 600 donors to 5,000 to 6,000 donors,” he says. “A grassroots drive is currently being planned to have more folks in Northern Virginia adopt the team right in their backyard, the George Mason Patriots, as their local team.”

He also hopes that Intercollegiate Athletics will continue to enhance its athletic facilities. With the exception of the Aquatics Center and the Jim McKay Natatorium, George Mason has not built any athletic facilities since the mid-’80s, according to Correll. However, construction will soon start on several projects—some that have already been funded, and some that will require major donations to become a reality. “It is exciting that we are in the midst of planning so that our future student-athletes, alumni, students, and friends can become even more proud of Mason than they already are,” says Correll.

For more information on the Patriot Club, visit the web site.

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