Bold vision outlined for Hokie Sports to become premier program in ACC
In February, Virginia Tech announced a $400 million fundraising campaign to propel Hokie sports to the forefront of the Atlantic Coast Conference, prepare generations of student-athletes for success, and raise the university’s profile nationwide.
“Athletics is an important part of the Virginia Tech experience, supporting the university and our local economy and creating national visibility that engages our worldwide community of alumni, friends, and fans,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said while highlighting the Reach for Excellence campaign alongside Athletic Director Whit Babcock and other university leaders. “Whit and our roster of talented coaches are doing a great job. … To take Virginia Tech Athletics to the next level of competitiveness, we need to resource athletics in the top-third of the ACC and the Power Five programs. To reach that level, we are committing to enhancing support from all sources, including significant private support from this campaign.”
The Reach for Excellence campaign will leverage the momentum of recent successes on the field and in fundraising, such as adding about 10,000 more Hokie Club members in the past five years and opening the Student-Athlete Performance Center thanks to a record gift. Still, leaders acknowledged that the athletics enterprise needs an infusion of revenue in order to compete at the top of the ACC.
Reach for Excellence is the largest ever campaign for Hokie sports, and is part of a broader, $1.5 billion fundraising initiative known as Boundless Impact: The Campaign for Virginia Tech. The goal of Reach for Excellence is to have raised $400 million for athletics by the time Boundless Impact closes in December 2027.
“This is an exciting day and the culmination of years of careful planning,” Babcock said during the Reach for Excellence announcement. “We know that our athletics program plays a central role in the student experience and the strong bond our wider community has with Virginia Tech. The past year has seen financial challenges due to COVID-19 and other factors, but we are confident in our long-term vision and our path to achieve it. We appreciate the university’s show of support and commitment to excellence across Hokie sports. We also appreciate all the donors who have already stepped forward to help—and the many more who will.”
Pillars of the Reach for Excellence campaign include:
- A football enhancement fund to build a program that consistently competes at the top of the ACC, by allotting $30 million over time for recruiting, assistant coaches’ salaries, quality-control coaches, player development, and capital needs.
- Renovations to improve Cassell Coliseum, with at least $50 million to be raised privately.
- The Drive for 25 initiative to increase Hokie Club membership to 25,000 and raise $20 million annually for student-athlete scholarships.
- Striving for comprehensive excellence for all sports by providing operating expenses, facility improvements, nutritional and strength and conditioning programs, and more.
- Increasing the number of student-athlete scholarship endowments to expand capacity to support students and broaden reach in recruiting.
Multiple Virginia Tech head coaches were present at the Reach for Excellence announcement.
Head Football Coach Justin Fuente stressed the importance of philanthropy to his team’s ability to win. “We have a responsibility to this university and to this football team to give these young men the resources and support that their peers across the ACC and other Power Five programs currently receive,” he said.
Carol Robertson, whose women’s golf team this past season made its first appearance at nationals, expressed confidence that Reach for Excellence will empower her and other coaches to build programs that win on a national scale. “I’m confident that our fan base will join in because we need them,” she said. “Giving isn’t about making a donation—it’s about making a difference.”
Babcock affirmed the aspirations for the future of Virginia Tech athletics, which in the past has had annual operating budgets of roughly $100 million. “We can either invest in a program that competes for championships across the board, or we can be average,” he said. “Our collective answer is clear: Our investment in athletics should match our aspirations.” AR/JR