Sept. 27, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — It was a special night for all in attendance when the I-Club held its annual Kinnick Society Dinner last Friday at the University Club in Iowa City.
“It is always a fun event with great Hawkeye fans,” said Dale Jones of Coralville, who attended the event with his wife Mary. “There is always a speaker that participated in Hawkeye athletics. Nate Kaeding was the speaker this year, and it was tremendous. It was a great night.”
Over 19,000 I-Club members nationwide help provide one-third of the UI athletic budget through financial support.
There are roughly 700 Kinnick Society members — in the highest I-Club giving level — named after the most heralded of Hawkeyes. The group consists of a variety of alums and non-alums from all over the country.
“It is great to be around good people that are great supporters of the Hawkeyes that want to see the program succeed. That is the main purpose, to do everything we can to support the Hawkeyes and give them a chance to be successful.”
— Dale Jones
“We started the Kinnick Society dinner when we were raising money for the Jacobson Building in the early 1990’s,” said Mark Jennings, UI associate athletics director for donor and patron services. “An annual Kinnick Society gift back then was $5,000. This current year, it will be a $10,000 gift to be a member of the Kinnick Society. That is a lot of money to give annually from a number of generous donors. We thought we needed to do something special for that small group of donors. We came up with the Kinnick Society Dinner.”
The UI Athletics Department is 100 percent self-sufficient, and receives no state tax dollars. Private support is vital for the Hawkeyes to compete in the Big Ten, and nationally.
“Every donor is important to us, no matter what level they give, but we cannot survive solely on small donations,” said Jennings. “This group is very special to the annual financial well-being of the athletics department. This is a group we continue to turn to for special projects, annual support and scholarship support.”
This special group of Hawkeyes comes together each year at a surprise location on the UI campus to celebrate the black and gold.
While a fun time for all, there is a greater meaning behind the event: support of the Hawkeye student-athletes and coaches.
“That is one of the reasons we always try and have it at one of the athletic venues, so our donors get a hands-on feel for what these facilities look like,” said Jennings. “We have held the dinner on the field at Kinnick Stadium, in the Paul W. Brechler Press Box, on the floor of Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the 13th tee box at Finkbine Golf Course, the Rec Building, the new Campus Recreation and Wellness Center, Beckwith Boathouse, the new practice facility inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and the new indoor football practice facility, among others. We try and move it around to our different venues.
“We have always tried to have a former student-athlete or coach be the featured speaker. Our donors love to hear from the student-athletes. This year we had Kaeding; we have had Ed Podolak, Casey Wiegmann, Hayden Fry, and the commissioner of the Big Ten, to name a few. It is always a great celebration of Hawkeye athletics.”
For Jones and other donors alike, the focus is on supporting the Hawkeyes.
“It is always enjoyable to talk with other supporters and those that work for Iowa athletics about different things going on with the sport programs,” said Jones. “It is great to be around good people that are great supporters of the Hawkeyes that want to see the program succeed. That is the main purpose, to do everything we can to support the Hawkeyes and give them a chance to be successful.”