The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

UWEC holds third annual giving week

Annual sports fundraiser held for NCAA Division III week at university
Photo by Sophie Geske
Director of Athletics Jason Verdugo standing in front of coaches, athletes, sponsors and community members to kickstart Giving Week 2024.

UW-Eau Claire is celebrating Division III sports and athletes during Giving Week and NCAA Division III Week, which both fall during the first week of April.

This is a big week for the athletic department as the sports teams are collecting donations to help with their finances throughout their seasons.

Athletics Director Jason Verdugo has been in his position for approximately 9 months and this is his first Giving Week at UW-Eau Claire. Verdugo said this fundraising effort provides financial flexibility for the athletics department.

“From our alums to families that support our endeavors, we are lucky enough that this week I know we are going to knock it out of the park,” Verdugo said. “I know we are going to do great.”

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Each team has its own section of the Giving Week website for specific donations as well as a championship fund. This section will be used for postseason awards and expenses.

“This fund is possible thanks to a generous donation from the NCAA in appreciation of Chancellor Schmidt’s service as the Chair of the Presidents Council, the highest governing body in Division III,” the giving week website said.

Market & Johnson and McDonough Manufacturing Company are sponsors for this year’s Giving Week. Both companies will be providing the top three highest fundraising men’s and women’s teams with additional funds.

According to the Giving Week website, the top men’s and women’s teams will each get an additional $5000, the second highest will receive an additional $3000 and the third highest will receive an additional $1500.

Verdugo started by welcoming everyone and acknowledged student athletes, specifically calling out Jared Stricker, Yakob Ekoue and Mitch Stegeman for their performances and wins.

Associate Athletic Director Robin Baker highlighted women’s sports and announced that Judy Kruckman would be giving a matching gift. Kruckman was the women’s athletic director from 1974-1984 as well as a women’s commissioner for the WWIAC.

“Judy’s been very supportive of women’s athletics at UW-Eau Claire for many many years,” Baker said. “This week’s challenge is about finding more donors for women’s sports and so that is what we are going to do with Judy’s help.”

With the first 100 donations to any of the 13 women’s sports, Baker said Kruckman will donate $1500, along with another $1500 when they reach 200 donors and $2000 at 300 donors for a total of $5000.

Baker said the athletics department is prioritizing replacing the floor for the gymnastics team and plans to put $10,000 of Kruckman’s donation towards the $30,000 cost of a new gymnastics floor.

“Our women’s gymnastics team needs a new floor for their floor exercises,” Baker said. “We have put it together and torn it apart about as many times as we can.”

This is the third annual giving week and each time the Blugolds strive to do better. Verdugo said the athletics department is hoping for at least 300 donors for women’s sports and more overall to support the 25 varsity sports and 800 student athletes.

As of 8:40 a.m. on Tuesday there have been 397 donors with a total of $38804 raised.

Donations to the athletics department can be given at 

Geske can be reached at [email protected].

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