December 1, 1996
A shot of support from Columbia/HCA will help Tulane athletics stay financially healthy for at least the next four years. Columbia/HCA has signed a $4-million sponsorship agreement with the Tulane Athletic Department, providing $1 million a year for the next four years, beginning Jan. 1, 1997.
The company is the largest healthcare system in Louisiana and is a partner with Tulane in a limited liability company which operates Tulane University Hospital and Clinic. The agreement is believed to be the largest non-product-related intercollegiate athletic sponsorship in the country, according to an Oct. 7 announcement by Eamon M. Kelly, Tulane president. For Athletic Director Sandy Barbour, the sponsorship means a financial boost as well as expanded community support for the football and basketball programs.
Barbour, who assumed the athletic director's in September, had been facing a $1.6-million budget shortfall for the 1997-98 fiscal year. For the current year, that $1.6 million was provided by the Tulane Board of Administrators through a one-time supplement from the university's endowment. The Columbia/HCA sponsorship "goes a long way toward closing the gap," Barbour said.
At a recent meeting of the Board of Administrators, she presented a preliminary budget for fiscal year 1998 that solved the shortfall through a "combination of ways to enhance revenues and cost-saving measures," she said. Tony Lorino, Tulane's senior vice president for operations and chief financial officer, said he was "thrilled and extremely positive" about the agreement. Both he and Barbour hope that the sponsorship can be extended beyond its initial four-year term.
Tulane, however, will not be sewing Columbia/HCA logos on Green Wave football or basketball jerseys, asserted Lorino, who has been working on the agreement since March, originally with the help of former athletic director Kevin White. The agreement calls for special signage in the Superdome to acknowledge the Columbia sponsorship. Columbia will also be provided with air time on television and radio shows featuring Basketball Coach Perry Clark and Football Coach Buddy Teevens.
The athletics department will not be the only beneficiary of the sponsorship; part of the agreement provides that tickets to Green Wave football and basketball games in the Superdome will be given to public and private secondary school students in the five-parish New Orleans area, as well as to all area Columbia/HCA employees.
"We are proud sponsors of Tulane and are excited to initiate a program that will benefit thousands of area youths," said Mel Lagarde, president of the Louisiana operations for Columbia/HCA. Said Lorino, "We believe over time this will become more valuable to Columbia and more valuable in dollars of support to Tulane. If we demonstrate success, if we do it well, it could continue not only for a longer period but for more things, more sports." Lorino called the agreement "the first step" and a complement to Tulane's existing partnership with Columbia/HCA.
"Columbia looks at it this way--they have an investment in Tulane University, not just the hospital and clinic," Lorino said. "It's a tremendous plus for our athletic program," added Barbour. "We hope to service Columbia in a way to benefit the community and benefit them--and we hope to renew and expand this agreement after the year 2000."
President Kelly added his thanks to Columbia/HCA for the sponsorship. "We are excited and pleased to see Columbia's support for Tulane athletics," Kelly said. "This agreement is further evidence of the success and strength of our unique partnership with Columbia." That partnership was cemented in 1995 when Tulane andColumbia/HCA joined to form the University Healthcare System, L.C
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