Big Ten to donate $1 million to relief efforts

Mindy Hagen

Joining with the Big Ten’s other universities to donate a total of $1 million, Northwestern has announced it will give $90,900 to relief efforts for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The presidents of the schools in the conference voted 11-0 in favor of making a contribution, NU Athletics Director Rick Taylor said. The money will be taken directly from television revenue from Big Ten football and men’s basketball games.

Taylor said he believes the donation is worthwhile, although NU will lose funds generated by athletic events.

A Big Ten representative said the conference has yet to decide what relief fund the money will go toward and when it will be distributed to the organization.

“The last I heard, there has been no decision on where to give the funding,” Taylor said. “There has been speculation that the money will go to some education fund to benefit the children of victims of the attack. I think that would be a great thing for our colleges to contribute to.”

Because the Big Ten pools revenue from all athletic contests before giving each school its portion, NU never had possession of the money it is giving away, although it budgeted the expected $90,900 into its athletic plans.

The athletic department also was scheduled to lose revenue from canceling the football team’s home opener against Navy, originally set for Sept. 15. The NCAA canceled all games that weekend in response to the attacks. Wanting to keep five home games on its schedule and profit from the revenue, NU added to its schedule a game against Bowling Green on Nov. 17.

University President Henry Bienen said the university would have taken a “double whammy” from donating to the relief fund and losing revenue from the game’s cancellation if the rescheduling had not occurred.

“I thought for a while we’d be contributing to the fund and not having a game,” Bienen said. “We were going to take it on the chin in revenue terms, but now happily we have Bowling Green as an extra game.”

The NCAA has donated $5 million to relief efforts, while other NCAA conferences still are undecided on whether to make their own donations. The Pac-10 conference said it has left it up to individuals schools to make their own pledges.

“The NCAA money is our money too, so some of us felt a donation has already been given,” said Ben Jay, assistant commissioner of business and finance for the Pac-10. “Our individual schools can develop their own plans in terms of supporting efforts for Sept. 11 benefits.”

Bienen also said NU is discussing other ways to get involved in relief efforts, which could include helping the families of the five alumni who died in the attacks. Because he has not yet spoken to the family members of the deceased, he could not comment on any plans.

“We just don’t know because we haven’t talked to the families,” he said. “I haven’t had a chance to do that, but I have written to the families of each of the people.”

Bienen said NU would not donate to a fund-raising effort sponsored by the American Council on Education to set up college funds for the victims’ children. Harvard University, which has the largest endowment of any university at more than $18 billion, has jump-started the drive by contributing $1 million.