Annual athletics auction moves online

The annual Augustana Athletics Auction was supposed to be held on March 27, 2020. But a week and half before the event, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the university.

Emily Punt, director of athletics annual giving, said she had hoped to hold the auction in person this fall. When it was clear that wasn’t going to be possible, the athletics department decided to hold a virtual auction during homecoming.

“Doing an online auction during Viking Days was when we thought we could engage athletic supports, since we’ve gone almost eight or nine months without an athletic event or anything to really rally around,” Punt said.

The in-person auction typically hosts between 400 and 500 student athletes, coaches, donors and fans. The online auction site had 307 users visit the platform to bid on items and make donations, according to Punt. In total, the auction raised more than $50,000, which Punt said “we were really happy with considering it was the first time we’d ever done it this way.”

The event was centered around a silent auction with items like a custom Augustana pool table, cabin trips to the Black Hills and suite tickets at the Pentagon for a basketball game.

New this year, athletic supporters could also donate to the Sports Showdown. Each Augustana sports team had its own donation page on the auction website. Student athletes could send the link to friends, family and alumni, raising proceeds that went directly to their program.

Thanks to a donation from an athletic donor, the athletics department was able to match some of the fundraising the top three teams brought in. The soccer team came in first, followed by the women’s basketball team in second and the women’s golf team in third.

Punt said the “friendly competition [was] a way for our individual sport programs to make some money.”

Athletic Director Josh Morton said the online auction was a great event for both “revenue and an opportunity to gather with friends.”

“We felt it was a good chance to bring people together, even virtually,” Morton said. “Our teams aren’t competing. We’ve heard from our fans that they miss that. They miss that chance to be a part and come around each other. While they weren’t necessarily standing shoulder to shoulder, at least virtually they could be doing something related to Augustana.”

Going forward, Punt said the athletics department has realized the benefits of having an online component to the auction.

“It doesn’t matter where you live or where you are. You can participate,” Punt said. “Thinking of how you can engage people no matter where they live, I think is the biggest thing this has taught me.”

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