The Syracuse Orange’s financial situation has obviously improved since they joined the ACC. However, it’s still an uphill climb for the football program to compete with the top of the conference (Clemson aside...).
One thing that can help all of that is more money and fan support. Luckily, SU just got a whole bunch of both on Thursday.
Syracuse alum and former football player John Lally and his wife Laura have donated $1 million to the Orange -- a significant gift that will go a long way toward various improvements to SU’s facilities. The announcement called out reconditioning the turf athletic practice field, renovations to the football complex and “other improvements.” As you’ll recall, Syracuse did just renovate the locker rooms over the offseason.
In the school’s announcement, they’d noted Lally decided to make the donation after meeting with Dino Babers and talking about potential improvements. Dino has a gift for fundraising, it would appear.
While large state schools have boatloads of boosters lining up to exact influence on their respective football programs in the forms of millions of dollars at time, Syracuse clearly doesn’t have that culture in place. That’s not a knock on the $1 million investment, but rather a statement of how significant it is for the program to receive such a donation.
Syracuse’s local fans can only support the team so far, and same goes for alums. While we’re not a “small” school necessarily, we’re also not that large. The alumni base is sizeable but it’s minuscule by state school standards — and it’s also hard to cajole them spend significant amounts of money on the football program (over basketball or other university improvements).
So this is a step in the right direction for the Orange, and a testament to the belief Babers has instilled in many in and around the program too.
No, a $1 million gift isn’t turning us into an immediate powerhouse. But it’s a nice start on building the type of facilities and culture Babers wants — and SU needs if it’s going to reestablish itself as a capable and consistently competitive football program.