Mitchell set to ramp up FAMU fund-raising during homecoming
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Tommy Mitchell is seldom seen without a small portfolio clutched in his hands.
Of course he has a lot of papers inside, including a rate chart that he gladly shows anyone who ask him about the FAMU Boosters’ fund-raising drive. He is methodical in how he delivers the message about for FAMU athletics.
“Tommy has brought a lot of energy,” said FAMU’s athletic director Milton Overton. “That’s what I love. I see the energy we’ve got, the camaraderie and consistency. We are all on the same page now.”
For almost a year now since becoming executive director of the Boosters, Mitchell’s job has been to take fund-raising to another level. Lately he’s been ramping up his efforts and will intensify it during the Rattlers’ homecoming next week.
It will mark the official kickoff of what FAMU has billed a “homecoming campaign.” Mitchell said it will run throughout the next 12 months and continue annually. The goal is raise enough money to help launch the first phase of improving Bragg Stadium.
The estimated cost is $60 million to make over the stadium that was last renovated in the 1980s.
“As long as financial institutions, investors and donors see we are committed, there is support for it,” he said, “then it’s very doable.”
In his quest to raise start-up money, Mitchell is asking for whatever anyone can give. The chart he carries, however, outlines how a donors could give as little as $100 to thousands.
“Whatever any individual wants to give,” he said.
He figures that if 10,000 people to give at least $100 they could reach a goal of $1 million in the year. For example, anyone donating $3.85 bi-weekly will amount to $200 per year.
It’s a concept that Mitchell said he has been practicing for the past 10 years. His bi-weekly deduction from his checking account is $83.36 for an annual amount of $2,000.
Overton said he expects Mitchell, who is assisted by state representative Ramon Alexander in operating the Boosters office, will be successful because of the ultimate goal of provide a top-notch stadium. Overton pointed to Mitchell’s six-year tenure as president of the FAMU’s National Alumni Association as an upside.
“He comes in with more credibility than I did,” said Overton who is in nearing his third year as AD. “That’s just what it is. It’s what you do over time. People respect him and that respect has been consistent. They trust him.”
Better facilities means better athletes will be more inclined to come to FAMU, Mitchell said.
“We want folks to recognize that if we want quality programs and quality athletes, we have to be able to recruit quality,” he said. “When athletes come we want to make sure they have the kinds of facilities that are comparable to any of the other college programs.”
Overton said he is so confident that the homecoming drive will be a success, that he said supporters will soon see enough to encourage their continued giving.
One encouraging sign would be to begin work on the first field house phase of Bragg’s remodeling, he said, without being specific to a start date.
“In order for us to move forward in a way that FAMU expects,” he said, “we have to turn dirt.”
For about a year now, FAMU has been circulating an engineer’s rendering of what the new stadium will like.
“What we are trying to show them is a vision of what they can have if they support the program,” Mitchell said.