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Signing day produces lucrative fundraising campaign for Rebels

National Signing Day generates more traffic for college athletics departments’ digital properties than any day of the year, and Ole Miss made the most of it last week.

The Rebel coaching staff certainly did its part by hauling in the best recruiting class in the football program’s history, ranked fourth in the nation by ESPN. The athletics department leveraged that success by initiating “Commit to Ole Miss,” a 24-hour period that included the launch of a crowd-funding campaign, the release of a special episode of its all-access show, an enhanced signing day website and accompanying social media collateral and a packed private party for donors.

On Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT, the eve of signing day, Ole Miss activated an Ignite website, www.CommitToOleMiss.com, to raise $500,000 to update its football facility, the Manning Center, with new wall graphics, a sound system and trophy cases. Perks included the powder blue helmets worn in the team’s Sugar Bowl win, old turf that had been removed from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, replica Sugar Bowl rings, pieces of trees that stood in the stadium’s north endzone before its current expansion and a commemorative Sugar Bowl poster.

To further drive fans to the Ignite site, the Sugar Bowl edition of the athletics department’s Emmy Award-winning show “The Season: Ole Miss Football” was debuted and embedded on the home page. More than 24,000 fans visited the site in the first day, and the video had almost 22,000 loads.

Response to the campaign has been overwhelming. Funds topped $84,000 in the first hour, $150,000 in less than four hours and $288,000 in the first 24. The ongoing campaign is well over halfway to its goal.

Ole Miss is no stranger to successful crowd-funding campaigns. After fans tore down the goalposts after the Rebels’ historic 2014 win over Alabama, the school’s campaign to replace the goalposts reached its goal of $75,000 in less than three hours.

“Our University’s Ignite platform has given us so many unique ways to engage our fans and donors, and we’ve been thrilled to find so many donors to the campaigns that we did not have in our database,” said Michael Thompson, Ole Miss senior associate athletics director for communications and marketing.