COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M's move to the Southeastern Conference was something school president R. Bowen Loftin called a "100-year decision" when it occurred. Turns out it was one of several factors that helped contribute to hundreds of millions in increased donations for the school.
The university raised more than $740 million in donations in the past fiscal year, the school announced on Tuesday. The total, documented between Sept. 1, 2012, and Aug. 31, 2013, is a school record and more than $300 million better than any previous 12-month period in the school's history.
"I think it's noteworthy," Texas A&M Foundation president Ed Davis told the Bryan-College Station Eagle. "Normally, we don't spend a lot of time beating our chest with things like this, but this year has been rather spectacular."
The fundraising total includes gifts to the university, private grants made to the research division and donations to the Texas A&M Foundation, The Association of Former Students, the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation and the 12th Man Foundation, the athletics fundraising arm of the school.
Of the total, $351 million went to the Texas A&M Foundation and $271.5 million went to the 12th Man Foundation, according to the Bryan-College Station Eagle.
The school attributed the increase to many factors, including attracting a record number of high-qualified students, record numbers of graduates and the university's entry into the SEC. The football program's first-year success in the league, which included an 11-2 season, a win over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl and quarterback Johnny Manziel becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, created a national buzz about Texas A&M football.
"People ask me all the time if you have a winning football team, do you raise more money," Davis told the Bryan-College Station Eagle. "In normal times, the statistical data wouldn't support that, but in an era where we are in, effectively, in the news everywhere and you have a young man like our quarterback who has been a media magnet and you have the success you have, I do think that euphoria does spill over into success in fundraising. I'm hoping we can keep it up."
Since last summer, the athletics program alone completed a 20,000-square foot football-only weight room and an athletics nutrition center behind the Bright Football Complex. It also is putting the finishing touches on a new lobby at the front of Bright and announced plans for a $450 million renovation of Kyle Field that will be completed in 2015. The new stadium plans call for a seating capacity of 102,500.
Texas A&M's fundraising total during the past fiscal year is the highest in the state. It exceeded the more than $400 million raised by Texas in the same period, according to the Austin American-Statesman.