Syracuse Orange: Amid NIL era, record $45M in fundraising is encouraging

Syracuse Orange (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
Syracuse Orange (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images) /

Given the name, image and likeness issue that the Syracuse Orange and other schools across the country are navigating amid state, federal and NCAA discussions, I found it highly encouraging a few days ago when SU Athletics announced that the ‘Cuse Athletics Fund (‘CAF) raised a record $45 million during the 2022-23 fiscal year.

Per a media statement on, the $45 million raised was a 54 percent increase from a year ago. SU Athletics said that this record fundraising came from 11,396 donors, the largest number of donors ever to support the program.

"To me, both the dollar amount raised and the record number of donors are impressive and provide a huge momentum boost for SU Athletics. “We have been able to surpass significant milestones in supporting our student-athletes due to the collective support from our alumni, friends and fans,” Michael Paulus, senior associate athletic director and executive director of ‘CAF, said in the statement."

More from the press release: “Contributions to the ‘Cuse Athletics Fund encompass all areas supporting Syracuse Athletics, including annual giving to the Athletics Opportunity Fund, support to individual sports teams, priority seating and Legends Society commitments to the John A. Lally Athletics Complex.”

SU Athletics had a record-setting fundraising year supporting Syracuse Orange sports.

Unless I missed something, I didn’t see anything in the release regarding name, image and likeness payments to SU athletes.

As I and others have discussed in articles for a while now, there are two non-profit collectives in the Central New York region that provide NIL opportunities to Syracuse Orange players, and understandably, details of their efforts are also not included in the fundraising release.

Regardless, I’m adamant that SU Athletics reporting these record-setting fundraising numbers while NIL is such a hot-button topic is nothing but a net positive.

In late June, per reports from Emily Leiker of and others, SU athletic director John Wildhack said at the time, “I think we’re in a better place today with NIL than we were 90 days ago.”

As I first reported in mid-April, businessman and philanthropist Adam Weitsman had decided to get out of the NIL game as it relates to the Syracuse Orange. In mid-January, I also first reported that Weitsman had signed NIL deals with various SU athletes.

With Weitsman not involved in Syracuse NIL any longer, Wildhack said in late June that “other donors have quietly come forward to help players get paid,” per Leiker’s story.

The future viability of Syracuse’s two 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that support NIL to SU players, the 315 Foundation and Athletes Who Care, is something to monitor.

In early June, according to many reports, the Internal Revenue Service issued a memo where it stated that donations made to non-profit NIL collectives aren’t tax-exempt. Could that eventually spell the end of non-profit collectives? We’ll see.

It was great to hear Wildhack say last month that NIL is progressing in a positive manner on the Hill. It’s equally as fabulous that SU Athletics crushed it on the fundraising trail in 2022-23. Let’s keep that going.

"Wildhack noted in the press release. “I want to offer my sincere gratitude to all ‘Cuse Athletics Fund members and donors who continue to step up and impact Syracuse Athletics and Syracuse University through their support. Providing competitive resources for our student-athletes, coaches and staff is a top priority, and we simply cannot pursue and accomplish this without you. We are immensely appreciative of your support across all levels and thank you for the impact you have on our student-athletes.”"

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