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October 18, 2010

Supporting Virgina Tech Athletics Since 1949

By: Brian Thornburg

The Student-Athlete Experience

Tech stuns No. 7 Maryland, 1-0In search of its first conference win of the season, the Virginia Tech women's soccer team shocked the No. 7 Maryland Terrapins with a 1-0 victory at Thompson Field, handing the Terps their first loss of the season and putting an end to their nine-game unbeaten streak.

“Thank you for all of your support over the years. Without you, my Hokie experience would not have been so exhilarating and rewarding!”

Kelly Lynch
Senior - Women’s Soccer

“Playing soccer for Virginia Tech against the best teams in the country has been challenging, and yet very rewarding. I credit the opportunity to compete and excel to the continued support of the Hokie Club. Thank you!”

John Snyder
r-Sophomore - Men’s Soccer

Donor File

Bob and Lynne Brown

Bob Brown

Current Hokie Club Level:
Hokie Benefactor

Hokie Club Member Since:

Currently Resides:
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Family members:
Lynne (wife), Kris Thornhill, Naples, Fla. (daughter), Jennifer Wardlaw, Lookout Mountain, Ga. (daughter)

Q: What year did you graduate?
A: 1969

Q: Being a member of the Hokie Club and supporting Virginia Tech athletics is important to me and my family because …
A: Virginia Tech has always been a part of my family. We feel like we’ve grown up with the university. I’m very proud of the respect our university has earned in athletics and academics. I’m proud to be a Hokie.

Do you have a specific moment when you realized that you were a fan of Virginia Tech athletics and knew without a doubt
that you were a Hokie?
A: I remember squeezing through a hole in the fence behind the end zone bleachers at Victory Stadium with my brother on
Thanksgiving Day in Roanoke to watch VPI play VMI. For Lynne, she remembers listening to the Highty Tighties practicing on the Drill Field while working in Burruss Hall. She was getting her “PHT” (putting hubby through). She says it gave her chills.

Do you have any game day or tailgating traditions or superstitions? If so, what are they?
A: A tradition is to bring a jug of “Hokie Juice” to home games. It’s a special concoction derived from three trips to New Orleans to watch the Hokies play in the Sugar Bowl.

Over the past decade, Virginia Tech athletics has undertaken tremendous facilities growth and renovations. Do you have a
favorite project? Why?
A: My favorite is the Lane Stadium expansion. Lynne and I recall saving seats in the cold on the east side for my fraternity as a pledge in 1967. It’s been amazing to witness the growth of our beautiful on-campus stadium.

Looking forward at the upcoming 2010-11 academic year, what athletics event or game are you looking forward to the
most and why?
A: UNC. We have a home in Greensboro, N.C., and Lynne’s brother and sister are UNC alums.

Q: My all-time favorite Virginia Tech football players are ...
A: Football: Don Strock and Michael Vick. I will never forget Strock’s 527-yard passing performance in 1972 versus Houston in Lane Stadium. And Michael Vick was amazing. His contribution to Virginia Tech football was a significant part of the Hokies’ rise in national college football prominence. Basketball favorites: Allan Bristow and Glen Combs. I remember Allan Bristow and the team’s gutsy performance winning the 1973 NIT championship. Also, I remember Glen Combs and the 1967 team’s Mideast Regional Final overtime game that could have put in the Hokies in the Final Four.

The Annual Fund: A critical piece to Virginia Tech’s athletics success

The Hokie Club was founded in 1949 by a group of businessmen in the community who shared a common bond and wanted to directly support athletics at Virginia Tech. At this time, the school was known as VPI and the fundraising organization was named the Virginia Tech Student Aid Association. The sole mission of the group was to raise money to support the scholarships of studentathletes.

Names have changed in the 61 years since its inception, but the goals of the organization and the importance of the support is still critical to the success of Virginia Tech athletics.

What is the Annual Fund and what is its role today?
Much like in 1949, the Annual Fund plays a very significant role for the Hokie Club and Virginia Tech Athletics. However, to the casual observer, the Annual Fund as a whole takes a backseat to the more well known giving levels that make it up. Most fans know that a Golden Hokie refers to a Hokie Club member that makes a $2000 annual donation, but what many fail to realize is that the sum total of the seven annual giving levels (Hokie Club, Orange & Maroon Hokie, Bronze Hokie, Silver Hokie, Golden Hokie, Platinum Hokie and Diamond Hokie) make up the Annual Fund.

In all, approximately 10,000 donors to the Hokie Club make up the Annual Fund and this group represents 90 percent of the entire Hokie Club membership. As Lu Merritt, Director of Development for Intercollegiate Athletics said, “Annual giving is the foundation of our fundraising program. Not only does it provide a reliable source of unrestricted revenue for athletic scholarships and the Hokie Club’s operating needs, it also identifies many of our most loyal donors.”

What does an athletics scholarship cost and how much is needed each year to pay the scholarship bill?
For the 2010-11 academic year, the cost of tuition, fees, books, room and board for an in-state student-athlete at Virginia Tech is estimated to be $17,591 and the cost for an out-of-state student-athlete is projected to be $31,219. With approximately 500 studentathletes, the scholarship bill for the 2010 academic year will be $9.6 million.

With the costs of tuition consistently on the rise, the importance of maintaining a healthy Annual Fund that can meet the rising costs is important. During fiscal year 2009, the Hokie Club raised $10.8 million in annual fund donations. The scholarship bill is paid using these gifts along with the earnings from the athletic endowment fund.

What part do endowed scholarships play in paying the scholarship bill?
Ideally, a school’s endowment should pay the entire annual scholarship bill. However, at Virginia Tech, and very commonly at most schools across the nation, the endowment fund is simply not large enough to handle this cost. Currently, the athletic endowment fund is approximately $32 million. Of that, $1.7 million in endowment earnings is budgeted to help pay the scholarship bill. This means that approximately 18 percent of the scholarship bill is paid through endowment gifts created by donors and the remainder is paid by the Annual Fund. (An endowment for a scholarship can be created with minimum gift of $50,000 paid over a five year period.)

Why is this important that the Hokie Club pays the scholarship bill now and in the future?
It is very important that the Hokie Club continues to create opportunities to grow the Annual Fund as the cost to educate studentathletes continues to increase. Whether it is attracting more Annual Fund members, cultivating additional endowment members or motivating current members to increase their annual support, Hokie Club members have responded to the need for additional support in the past and met the funding needs. Lu Merritt is optimistic that our members will continue to help us by recruiting new members. “There is great power in numbers” Merritt said. “Through a collective effort, we are confident that new levels of annual support can be achieved.” As it was in the beginning, the goal of raising money to support Virginia Tech’s student-athletes is the top priority for the Hokie Club.

To learn more about the annual giving levels and opportunities that exist to support Virginia Tech Athletics through the Hokie Club, visit us at or call the Hokie Club office at (540) 231-6618.