Wave of Prosperity
After remaking the athletics department, Tulane “society” looks to boost funding.
Tulane’s director of athletics, Troy Dannen, has injected energy into his department and is looking to cash in on it with the establishment of a new philanthropic program, the Olive & Blue Society.
Dannen arrived on campus in December 2015 and right away set about changing the attitude and expectations of the Green Wave’s athletic program. Within his first year, Dannen hired head coaches for the “Big 3” sports — football, men’s basketball and baseball. Just 11 days after his own hiring, Dannen hired Willie Fritz as head football coach. At the end of March 2015, he signed Mike Dunleavy to lead the basketball program. Then, in mid-July of last year, he called upon Travis Jewett to coach baseball.
Dannen’s brought back vintage logos, like the angry wave, to fields, helmets and merchandise, allowed teams to wear multiple, hip uniform combinations, and now he’s looking to transform that energy into profit.
The Olive & Blue Society will invest in student-athlete welfare, increase recruiting resources and enhance facilities, which the school expects will help catapult Tulane Athletics exponentially. Membership in the group is based on gifts ranging from $25,000 to more than $1 million given over a span of up to five years. Associated benefits to donors include membership in the AD’s Cabinet, naming rights, away game travel and annual events and gifts.
“The Olive & Blue Society will be at the cornerstone of our foundation to solidify the external support we desire to build a successful athletics department at Tulane that achieves at the highest levels academically, socially and competitively,” Dannen said.
The society will function separately from the Green Wave Club (previously called the Tulane Athletics Fund), which was formed in 1967 as a fundraising arm for Tulane Athletics and collects nearly $3 million annually.
When Dannen first took over the Green Wave athletics department, he said he found the culture “broken.”
“Winning hasn’t been talked about,” he said.
This summer, the pace and tempo around the Wilson Center, Tulane’s sports headquarters, is quicker than it was a year ago.
“I’m very pragmatic about where our program was,” he said. “I know from a competition standpoint that we weren’t there. I’ve been able to hire people who will instill a culture that I believe in. Now, we have people who know how to win, who expect to win, and who are going to force everyone to elevate themselves to get to that level of expectation.
“The state of Tulane Athletics today is that we’re turning the corner on culture,” he continued. “It’s been a whirlwind, but I have great comfort in where everything is at.”
Garrett Broom was hired as Tulane’s assistant athletics director of development at the beginning of this year to lead the day-to-day operations of the department’s fundraising initiatives, including the Green Wave Club, Olive and Blue Society and Tulane Letterwinners Association.
Broom previously served as director of development at the University of Wisconsin from 2014-16, and assistant director of development at Ole Miss from 2012-14. His focus was on major gift identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship for facility projects, endowments and annual donors for the athletics department. While at Wisconsin, his team raised more than $100 million in three years.
Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football. Price also authors the Friday Sports Column at BizNewOrleans.com.