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Todd Graham and Ray Anderson donate $500K each to “Momentum” campaign

(Photo: Adam Stites/WCSN)

Todd Graham has only been the head coach of the Arizona State football team for fewer than three years and Ray Anderson has only served as the school’s athletic director for fewer than one year, but both men showed their commitment to the university on Monday by pledging $500,000 each to the school’s “Momentum” campaign.

The “Momentum” campaign, which was launched in January, will work to raise money for a re-invention of Sun Devil Stadium and the attached football facilities. With $1 million coming from Graham and Anderson, those fronting the campaign hope that they will be able to better convince potential donors to contribute.

“It’s a lot easier to ask someone if you’re committed to do it yourself,” Graham said. “If you’ve done it, it’s a little easier to ask someone else to step up and do it.”

Getting people to step up and pitch in is the job of Steve Butterfield, an ASU alumni who is co-chairman of the Momentum campaign and made the announcement of the pair of $500,000 donations at a press conference on Monday with Graham and Anderson, as well as their wives, Penni and Buffie.

“It speaks volumes to their personal commitment to what they do every day and it sends a tremendous message across the country to how emotionally involved they are with the success that’s going on here at Arizona State University,” Butterfield said.

Upon his arrival at ASU, Graham was criticized nationally for his propensity for leaving programs at the first sign of greener pastures. Most of the criticism stemmed from his departure from the University of Pittsburgh where he coached for just one season in 2011 before abruptly leaving to accept the head coaching job at Arizona State.

While he specified that it wasn’t the intent of his donation, he did say that the investment showed that things are different than the past.

“To get involved in something and make that type of financial commitment is something that you have to have a tremendous amount of belief in,” Graham said. “I think it makes a big statement about what our commitment is because we surely wouldn’t make this type of commitment if we had anything else in mind.”

With Graham and Anderson firmly on board, the Momentum campaign will begin to ramp up their fund-raising efforts to acquire funds for stadium renovations.

“This stadium re-invention is really a transformational opportunity for ASU,” Anderson said. “This is a project that will benefit Sun Devils athletics, our university and our community in so many ways by upgrading our ability to have academic facilities, medical facilities, training facilities, classroom facilities and multi-purpose, multi-use facilities.”

Graham echoed the sentiment that all student-athletes would benefit from the upgrades and stressed that recruiting more football talent would be made easier after completion of the project. Effective immediately though, Graham said that his donation can be used to entice recruits.

“When it comes to recruiting, there’s no question it makes a statement about the commitment to winning and winning at the highest level,” Graham said. “It shows this is not business as usual. There is a different commitment.”

A different commitment that will likely silence questions of Graham’s future at ASU. He has spoke often about his desire to build a legacy in Tempe and on Monday he put his money where his mouth is.

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