KNOXVILLE — Donations to the University of Tennessee athletic department, and the number of people who gifted that money, fell by more than 25 percent in 2012.
The $10 million drop followed coaching shake-ups and a poor performance on the football field — but it also came after years of record giving to the department.
For the last decade, new capital gifts have fueled new building projects. Those building projects brought new luxury stadium seating. Those seats delivered even more donations at higher-dollar amounts required from ticket holders who wanted to watch games from a premium perch.
It's a strategy that grew the overall donations — for the tickets fund and capital projects combined — from $13.6 million in 1998 to a high-water mark of $46.9 million in 2008.
Last year UT brought in $35.1 million.
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