SEATTLE – Matt Miera is a proud Cougar fan, who does not hide his Crimson Pride.
“I’m definitely a die hard Coug, and definitely excited about Mike Leach,” said Miera, who owns the Marco Polo Bar and Grill in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. He also says he’s been a proud supporter of the school’s academic institutions.
“We try to give as much as we can to the university, and the alumni association,” he said.
According to WSU, there has been an unprecedented amount of financial support, related to Leach’s hiring.
“It’s been a great windfall for the foundation for immediate gifts,” said WSU VP for University Development Gil Picciotto. He claims the WSU Foundation has taken in more than $300,000 since last Wednesday, when the hire was announced. The school has also sold more than $200,000 in season tickets, meaning Leach’s hiring has prompted more than a half million dollars in revenue.
“These really are the sorts of donations which are a little abnormal, we’re hoping to take advantage,” said Picciotto matter-of-factly. “Our donors in general who give to athletics actually give more to the academic side over the course of their giving, so it’s a way to get them in.”
Picciotto believes Leach’s hiring has the long term potential to increase revenue, at a time when the University is in the midst of a billion-dollar fundraising campaign. “We get more people to the football game, we get more people who walk by French Ad, or Todd Hall, or walk by places they remembers as a student and it triggers something inside and they are more receptive to giving.”
He cites the donation made by a WSU grad from Texas, who cited the Leach hiring in prompting him to give. Picciotto says donations have come from Cougs far and wide, and even Leach fans who miss him at Texas Tech, where he used to coach.
“You gotta love your Cougs,” said Wendy Werner, a customer at the WSU Connections store, and is excited about the Leach hire. “It should liven things up and we’ll win a few games.”
She bought something today, which according to store manager Dave Walsh, has happened quite a bit lately.
“We saw a positive impact immediately,” said Walsh, “There has not been this kind of excitement for Coug football in quite a while.”
The store features clothing, cheese, wine, and other merchandise. All the revenue from the store goes into the WSU operations budget.