Baseball Donation Falls Apart: University Not Alone in Endowment Falling Through
Bleachers from the UCO Baseball Field remain broken down behind the press box. (Cara Johnson/ The Vista).
A $13.5 million donation fell through after the University of Central Oklahoma announced the anonymous donor would be unable to meet the expectations of the agreement.
The money was going to fund a new baseball stadium, while also allocating some money toward scholarships for student athletes.
This isn’t the first time a university has lost a major donation. Portland State University had a $100 million donation fall through just two years ago.
“Something about this is just not right,” Mark Rosenbaum, member of the Portland State University (PSU) Foundation board and President & CEO of Rosenbaum Financial said.
In 2015, Portland State University had an anonymous donor who pledged $100 million to the university. The would be donation was the highest amount ever for Portland State, as they readied to roll out the red carpet to announce the record donation.
But something seemed off. After a conference call that Portland State University had with their donor, Rosenbaum said he started to become suspicious of the donors actual intentions.
“The way he was discussing things did not resonate with me in terms of past conversations I’ve had with any donors in any circumstance,” Rosenbaum said.
Rosenbaum said the donor started to make an unrealistic set of changes and wanted to add even more money to his donation. Everything was different with this donor and from a business and philanthropy perspective, Rosenbaum just didn’t think it rang true.
After doing a little more research about their donor with various databases that estimate the capacity of a donor, Rosenbaum and PSU saw the $100 million donation crumble right in front of them.
Six weeks after PSU was told they would receive a donation that would change their university forever, it hit them that no money was coming. The money that was going to help all students at PSU vanished after learning the donor never had the money to begin with. Rosenbaum said he thinks officers don’t expect someone to make a such a claim that they can’t act on.
“You spend your whole life trying to create donors and then you have somebody who’s totally fraudulent, it’s an anomaly for sure,” Rosenbaum said.
Rosenbaum said he thinks their donor had a mental illness, which contributed to his want of donating an unrealistic amount of money to PSU.
“I think there are just some people around that really frankly may have a strong desire to be able to impact their community,” Rosenbaum said. “But there’s just this disconnect somehow between their personal reality and what can be accomplished.”
After the public learned about the fallout of the donation, Rosenbaum said there was a difficult stage of having to reassure everyone about the abilities, reputation and the effectiveness of their organization.
“It was just a really unfortunate set of circumstances where someone from the outside raised the expectations of a group of folks and then left everything flat.”