Friday January 30th, 2015

College sports programs received a record $1.26 billion in donations in 2014, according to the results of a survey conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Of the nearly 400 schools that responded to the survey, Texas A&M raised the most money at $93.6 million. Texas A&M's haul was the second-highest total since the survey began, behind the $133 million Oregon raised in 2013.

Texas A&M's surge in donations is connected to the renovation of its football stadium.

During the past two years, donors at Texas A&M have contributed more than $230-million in cash and pledges toward the renovation of Kyle Field, said Skip Wagner, president of the university’s 12th Man Foundation. Donors have given $30-million more toward other athletics projects, he said.

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Michigan finished second in the survey after receiving $54.6 million in donations last year. After the football team finished 5-7 last year, the school hired former San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, giving him a reported $5 million starting salary.

The top 20 schools combined to bring in more than $700 million in donations, according to The Chronicle.

University of Arizona vice president for athletics Greg Byrne told The Chronicle that schools have had to change how they fund projects.

"A lot of the facilities we compete in were built with state dollars, and that will rarely happen anymore," said Greg Byrne, vice president for athletics at the University of Arizona. "Many of us have had to look ourselves in the mirror as our infrastructure has needed replacing, and realize that philanthropic gifts are going to be the only way to solve that issue."

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- Paul Palladino

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