Houston Cougars athletics recognizes $50 million fundraiser milestone, seeking more

Sep 24, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars mascot Shasta celebrates with fans during the fourth quarter of the game against the Rice Owls at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Cougars athletics recognizes $50 million fundraiser milestone, seeking more

The Houston Cougars athletics department officially announced the milestone of surpassing $50 million in pledges and outright donations with the Houston Rise campaign on Tuesday.

UH launched the campaign on June 23, 2022, with the goal of raising $150 million to help athletics find championship success in the Big 12. It is over a third of the way there roughly 11 months later.

“We’re extremely grateful to those who have answered the call and supported the Houston Rise campaign,” Houston vice president for athletics Chris Pezman said in Tuesday’s release. “As we inch closer to July 1, we feel the increased excitement and interest from our fans.

“Investing in Houston Rise gives our student-athletes, coaches, and programs the chance to compete at [the] highest level in the Big 12.”

A bulk of the funding will be used for the construction of the Football Operations Center and upgrades to the Guy V. Lewis Development Center and the Athletics-Alumni Center.

Pezman told Gallery Sports in late April the university has had over a third committed of the original $150 million goal for a while. Tuesday’s announcement was just the official acknowledgment of that milestone, a university spokesperson confirmed.

Pezman also said in April the timeline of the $150 million goal was to achieve it within two years from the fundraiser’s launch, which would be June 23, 2024.

The focus for the campaign has been on securing additional seven and eight-figure donations and pledges to continue increasing the campaign’s total, Pezman stated.

“Then we can start stacking those [large donations] and know how much we need to lean into the moderate and smaller gifts,” Pezman told Gallery Sports. “By and large, the response from the Rise campaign has been exceptional.”

Houston’s second priority

Additionally, the university also revealed it has seen nearly 900 new members join the Cougar Pride Athletic Fund since the launch of Houston Rise last June. There are approximately 4,000 active Cougar Pride accounts, a UH spokesperson said.

The Cougar Pride Athletic Fund is the fundraising arm of Houston athletics, according to its website. Cougar Pride helps by providing financial support for student-athlete scholarships and priority needs that arise within the athletics department.

“Each new Cougar Pride donation is a key building block in a championship foundation for Houston athletics,” John Gladchuk, senior associate athletics director, said in UH’s release.

The news release states growing Cougar Pride Athletic Fund membership is the second and equally important Houston Rise priority. Perks of Cougar Pride memberships vary per donation.

UH is looking to continue raising as much funding as possible with the Cougars just 53 days away from being an official Big 12 Conference member.

“If you want to compete to win in the Big 12, you better be a Big 12 resourced institution,” Houston men’s basketball head coach Kelvin Sampson said in Tuesday’s release.

Regardless of how much supporters can donate, every bit helps, Gladchuk stated.

“Participation, regardless of form, is the lifeblood of the Houston Rise campaign,” Gladchuk said. “We have heard people say that they don’t feel the little they can do will make a difference. Our response is all participation matters … everything counts.”

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