A single question sparked a movement to boldly shape the future of William & Mary Athletics: Are we All In? The William & Mary community’s resounding answer to that call enabled the university to exceed its $55 million campaign goal, signaling to all 23 Division I varsity teams, their fans and W&M as a whole that athletics at the Alma Mater of the Nation matters and is a critical part of W&M’s commitment to excellence.

The All In campaign for W&M Athletics was launched during the pandemic, at a time when our way of life was upended and uncertainty was rampant. It was a rallying cry to strengthen our financial foundation, build community, ensure equity and reimagine a new home for athletics. Victory ensued, as it always does when the William & Mary community comes together in support of a cause it cares deeply about – and ultimately, everyone came out a winner.

“At W&M, we meet challenges head-on. Propelled by the generosity of so many, we crossed the All In finish line for W&M and for our student-athletes,” said President Katherine A. Rowe. “We have reinforced the essential role of athletics in the life of the university. William & Mary’s long-standing commitment to our 500-plus student-athletes is more relevant today than ever before: This is the institution where you can realize your full potential both in competition and in the classroom.”

“I am grateful to every person who has invested in our vision for a more sustainable athletics program,” said Rowe.

In total, the campaign raised $57.2 million, including $13.2 million for scholarships, thanks to the outpouring of support from 11,206 donors. Of those donors, 3,280 gave to athletics for the first time and 2,310 donors made their first gift ever to W&M. Nearly $3.4 million was secured for the Athletics Impact Fund, which infused immediate-use funds into teams, programs and areas facing pressing needs across the department.

Foundational to All In’s success were the volunteer leaders who put their full weight behind the campaign, including Campaign Chair Sue Hanna Gerdelman ’76, P ’07, P ’13, and Honorary Co-Chairs Todd Boehly ’96 and Katie Garrett Boehly ’95, Jill Ellis ’86, L.H.D. ’16, P ’27 and Betsy Stephenson, Jennifer Tepper Mackesy ’91 and D. Scott Mackesy ’91, as well as Mike Tomlin ’95, L.H.D. ’08 and Kiya Winston Tomlin ’96.

It was also the vision of the Boehlys and Mackesys that spearheaded efforts to reimagine the new home for W&M Athletics. This took root during the university’s triumphant $1 billion For the Bold campaign in which athletics had also exceeded expectations in raising more than $181 million.

The new home, dubbed the “William & Mary Athletics Complex” encompasses the soon-to-be-constructed Mackesy Sports Performance Center and revitalized Kaplan Arena – which now features a new state-of-the-art scoreboard, lighting and sound, as well as a renovated weight room and locker rooms – the Mackesy Tennis Center, Busch Field and the Tribe Field Hockey Center. As part of All In, Dillard Field will also see major upgrades that will benefit the entire campus community, particularly for varsity teams as well as intramural and club sports.  

The complex, when complete, will represent an identifiable front door to W&M Athletics on campus – a gathering place for our entire community that symbolizes the university’s commitment to holistic excellence. With continued support, the university will have greater means to focus on whole student-athlete development by transforming where players train, compete and study.

Investments in top-notch facilities, in all 23 teams, in scholarships and the entire athletics department has already transformed the student-athlete and fan experience and led to some big wins. Over the course of the campaign, the university saw:

  • W&M solidified the No. 1 spot among all public Division I athletics programs for the highest student-athlete graduation rate – for the 18th consecutive year
  • Men’s Cross Country, Women’s Swimming, Women’s Tennis (twice!), Football and Field Hockey all claimed CAA Championships
  • W&M Football advanced to the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs for the first time since 2009
  • Women’s Track & Field won the Colonial Relays for the first time since 2009
  • Field Hockey won the second NCAA playoff game in program history
  • All teams posted a 3.0 GPA or better for the first semester on record
  • Numerous wins, postseason appearances and individual, team and coaching honors, as well as countless memories made

“It has been incredible to witness firsthand the transformations that have taken place because of the campaign. We’ve seen our community rally behind our athletes, coaches and staff like never before and we are deeply thankful,“ said Director of Athletics Brian Mann. “We’ve made extraordinary inroads and while our work is never done, we will take in this moment and realize all that has been possible because our community went All In.”  

W&M Athletics does not receive support from the state. It relies almost exclusively on private support, particularly annual giving, which can represent between 15% and 20% of the athletics department’s annual budget. During the All In campaign, annual dollars increased by more than 9% and annual donors by more than 26%, with a large portion of annual gifts coming in on the university’s biggest day of giving back and paying it forward, One Tribe One Day. This year’s OTOD takes place on March 26.

“The stakes were high and together we changed the trajectory of athletics. This will greatly impact the entire educational experience at W&M in the years and decades to come. I’m excited to see how we will continue to mold our future as one Tribe united,” added Gerdelman.

Editor’s note: This story originally ran as an online exclusive on the W&M Alumni Magazine website.