April 10, 2024

Updates On Our Relationship With The University

Chris Majer provides insights into HRAA's relationship with the University of Washington

Over the years the Husky rugby club has had a ‘checkered’ relationship with the University. Sometimes they love us and sometimes they tolerate us.  That’s not news. Today, we are working to usher in a new era in that relationship.  We are seeking to bring stability and predictability to this relationship so that the club can grow and flourish.  As such the Husky Rugby Alumni Association (HRAA) has undertaken a number of actions that we hope will put the club on a more solid foundation.  Think of this as a report on those actions and a partial answer to the question we get a lot, “what is the board doing?”  

We are currently engaged with the University on three items that we feel are a good start to help build a better partnership:


Those of you who attended the gala last year heard Ky Huggins talk about the challenges we face when working to recruit incoming students.  UW tuition is higher, the admissions process can be daunting and even well qualified students often get denied admissions.  Strangely, the football and basketball teams don’t seem to have any problems getting their recruits admitted.  

Coach Will Wheaton and former coach Mike Alfstad have been working with the office of admission. We understand that if we can recruit kids who qualify academically, they will help get them into the school, bump them ahead of kids who won't have a similar contribution to a UW extracurricular and, if needed, help with financial aid. Further, there is a new program called the Husky Promise, which in simple terms guarantees that any kid from the state of Washington who gets admitted will have tuition covered by the state if they can demonstrate need. This is in line with our goal of providing opportunities to underrepresented communities within WA state.

With this information and some key intel from admissions learned this year, we are better-equipped than ever to approach local talented high school players, help them navigate admissions and financial aid, and successfully bring them to UW. This is a game changer for us, and a life changer for the young student athletes we assist.


The club has three sources of income. One is the University, who ‘generously’ gives them $1,500 per year – yup, hard to believe all that largess.  For the record, when I played in the early 70’s we got $ 3,000.00 per year and the UW provided us with UW vans to travel to away games.  Not anymore!

The second is the Huddleston Endowment Fund which provides roughly $10k a year to the team. For many years, part of the funds raised at our annual fund-raising gala would go to the endowment and what started as a $40k endowment years ago is now worth a bit over $200k and every year the club gets to draw on the earnings, which as noted are now about $9-10k per year.

The third source of funds is us, the HRAA. Some of the funds we raise are set aside for HRAA operations and to help fund the club each year.  As you know fundraising is an ongoing effort and challenge. In conversations with Matthew Brinton, who is responsible for student activities including all 47 of the sports clubs and the IMA, we have found out about a new fundraising program that we are going to take advantage of. The University is currently putting together a fundraising page for us that will go up on their fundraising website.  We will help promote this and, with a little success, this in and of itself could bring in $10-20k per year.

Growing Our Community

The University has a list of some 400 former Rugby players that it has accumulated over the years. They have agreed to work with us to do a targeted outreach to these fellow alums to reconnect them with the HRAA. I have been working with Paul Rucker, the UW VP whose responsibilities include the UW Alumni Association and the magazine it publishes quarterly, and we are going to get an article published in the magazine. As it hits the streets, Matthew and his team will launch a direct email campaign to all of the alumni on their list asking them to join the HRAA as well as sharing the above-mentioned fundraising page. These efforts, along with the magazine article, should raise our brand awareness and hopefully get a number of husky rugby alum to reconnect with us!

So, there you have it, the update, the lowdown, the dish, the juice, all the news that’s fit to print about what your HRAA is doing to create a stronger relationship with the UW.

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