Nearly 100 student-athletes representing each of Oklahoma's 21 varsity programs are participating in the three-day event which began Monday and runs through Wednesday.
"It shows the care and support they have for the university," basketball freshman Je'lon Hornbeak said of Sooner Club members. "Just to see how they want us to do better - even though they don't even know us - really shows a lot of character from them."
Donations to the Sooner Club are used primarily to support student-athlete scholarships, as well as provide academic resources and funding for new and renovated facilities.
Over 13,000 individual donors have been contacted over the first four years of the event. This year's goal is to reach Sooner Club members who contribute above and beyond the gifts tied to their priority seating.
"The Thank-a-Thon is an event both our donors and student-athletes look forward to each year," said Dusty Clements, OU Assistant AD for Development. "It's important that our student-athletes understand the generosity of so many Sooner fans allows them to receive a scholarship and practice and play in first-class facilities. At the same time, for our donors, a `thank you' coming directly from the student-athletes they're supporting is very meaningful."
The OU Athletics Department is one of only a small handful of programs nationwide that is entirely self-supporting and receives no state funds, university subsidies or student fees. This reality creates a significant need for private contributions. The department's reliance on private support increases each year as the cost of education and the resources necessary to maintain a quality athletics program continue to escalate.
The Athletics Department is responsible for the educational expenses (tuition, fees, room and board, books) of more than 500 student-athletes who receive scholarships to attend OU and represent the university in intercollegiate athletics competition.
Support from Sooner Club members provides vital support to all 21 of OU's varsity sports and provides each program with the resources necessary to pursue championships and equip OU's student-athletes with the academic and personal skills needed to earn degrees and prepare for rewarding lives after they leave OU.
"It's really neat to be able to personally make that phone call and say thank you for everything that you do in giving us that unique experience here at OU," said rowing senior Nicole Furmanek.
Sooner Club membership starts at $100. While members do receive a number of benefits based on their giving - including priority seating opportunities, media guides, parking and priority points - perhaps the greatest benefit is the knowledge that your contributions directly support the student-athletes who represent the university and state by wearing the OU uniform.
To join the Sooner Club, or to find out more information on membership benefits, methods of giving and more, call (405) 325-8000 or (866) SOONERCLUB, or visit TheSoonerClub.com.
/// SoonerSports PR