Even in these uncertain times, one thing has held true – the Jackrabbit Athletic Scholarship Auction at South Dakota State University continues to set records.
The May 2 event raised a record-$1,737,600, despite the fundraiser moving fully to an online format for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That total, which was bolstered by a two-to-one match from an anonymous donor, included a record-$1.15 million for athletic scholarships, $372,000 for Feeding South Dakota and $207,000 for high-need scholarships at SDSU.
The amount raised for Feeding South Dakota is enough to provide 1.1 million meals.
“We had high expectations going into this year’s auction, but the response from Jackrabbit Nation is nothing short of extraordinary,” SDSU Director of Athletics Justin Sell. “To set a record for athletic scholarships and raise another half-million dollars for other important causes in our campus community and state speaks to how special our university is to so many people.”
More than 350 items were included in the regular silent auction, while a premium silent auction that wrapped up the evening’s festivities consisted of 21 items ranging from trips, Jackrabbit-themed artwork and special ticket packages and fan experiences. Sell and associate athletic director Tyler Merriam hosted the hour-long premium silent auction on YouTube Live, while the evening began with auction-goers able to interact virtually with each other, Jackrabbit coaches and other special guests through Zoom video conference rooms.
“I asked our staff to get creative to provide a unique experience and they delivered in a big way,” Sell said. “I’m really proud of how we all came together for a memorable night.”
In previous years when the event was held at Frost Arena, a meal was included in the cost of a ticket. This year, auction organizers purchased more than $14,000 in gift cards from local partner restaurants. The gift cards and bottles of wine from auction sponsor J. Lohr Wine and Vineyards were delivered throughout the week leading up the event to those who purchased tickets in advance.
The Jackrabbit Athletic Scholarship Auction was also sponsored by First PREMIER Bank and Sanford Health.