One thing is certain to happen this evening at Radio City Music Hall: The first name to be called in the 2012 NFL Draft will be that of former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
In his four years at Stanford, Luck threw for 31 wins, led Stanford to three bowl appearances and was a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy twice, all while completing an engineering degree in architectural design. Luck’s impressive resume at Stanford left the university with not only a stronger football program, but with a great marketing opportunity.
Joe Karlgaard has served as Stanford’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for Development since February 2011. Prior to that, he was the athletic director at Oberlin College for six years and as a Stanford student, worked in Stanford’s track and field office. When asked whether a Stanford student-athlete has captivated donors like Luck, Karlgaard says the school has never seen a current student-athlete as celebrated as Luck.
“I think that Andrew certainly has a profile in college athletics that we haven’t seen at Stanford in a long time. Tiger Woods may have a similar profile, but his profile grew after he left Stanford and won the Masters. Luck is a two-time Heisman finalist, who helped us turn around our football program and performed well in the classroom,” Karlgaard explained.
The profile Luck developed during his four-year tenure at Stanford has assisted the Stanford athletics department in fundraising. In particular, the athletics department has received two anonymous donations totaling $15 million dollars from donors who said they were inspired by Luck. While these large donations were definitely given as a result of Luck’s presence at Stanford, Karlgaard believes that Luck has motivated others to donate money to the Stanford athletics department.
The $15 million which the Stanford athletics department received from donors who were inspired by Luck will only further propel Luck’s positive presence on the campus. According to Karlgaard, the $15 million will be used to fund endowment and capital projects. One capital project that will be funded in part by the $15 million donation, is Stanford’s renovations to its Arrillaga Family Sports Center. Stanford will break ground this summer on the 18 month renovation process to the facility. Renovations will include an expanded weight room, new football locker room, two new auditoriums, new football coaches offices and new film rooms. The total cost of the renovations to the Arrillaga Family Sports Center is expected to be $18 million, of which Karlgaard indicates has all been raised by Stanford.
Luck’s presence as Stanford has been used by the athletics department to generate annual giving donations. Stanford athletics utilizes the website BuckCardinal.com for annual giving purposes. As of this Tuesday, the front page of the website features a nine-and-a-half minute video featuring Luck discussing his experience at Stanford. Karlgaard said that the email was pushed out to donors who have not given this year to the annual find with invitation for them to donate to the athletics department. Within 24 hours of the video being uploaded, it had received over 2,000 page views.
As for whether Luck’s being drafted number-one will further motivate donors to give money to Stanford athletics, Karlgaard said, “I don’t think his going number-one necessarily changes the minds of our donors regarding how they feel about Luck or Stanford football. He’s the whole package. He’s the consummate student-athlete as Stanford envisions it. His success on the football field and his commitment to finishing his degree in a rigorous subject, like architecture, have inspired our donors at a variety of levels. I don’t think his going number-one has any real impact. If the Colts decided to take Robert Griffin III, I don’t think we would see any real downturn to our donations for development.”
Today, there is an air of excitement on the Stanford campus, as the school’s quarterback is expected to be the first name called in the NFL Draft. However, given the profile Andrew Luck built-in his four years at Stanford, his name will certainly continue to ring out on Stanford’s campus.