To Buff Club or not to Buff Club?

The University of Colorado boasts 30,000 students on its Boulder campus. CU cranks out thousands of new alumni each year.

Tens of thousands of former Buffs live along the front range. Tens of thousands of non-alumni have taken up the cause of cheering on their local team and/or the state’s flagship university.

This past fall, even with a team spiraling towards a school record seventh consecutive losing season, almost 50,000 fans found their way to Folsom Field for each Saturday home game to cheer on their Buffs.

The Buff Club boasts a membership role of … just over 6,000.


Why is the number so low? It’s not due to the high cost of joining – $100 is all it takes to become a member. So it has got to be something else.

The topic has been raised on both AllBuffs and this week, as the BuffClub renewal statements went out to season ticket holders.

Some of the comments made:

– “I give the required amount every year, so I’m a Buff Club member, but I have had no luck getting in touch with the group. The website has nothing on it as far as how to contact leadership or get involved. I’ve gone to a few luncheons and given my card to folks who promise to get in touch, but have never heard back. Sort of a mystery, as far as I can tell. The idea is, ‘we’d like you to donate,’ but there really isn’t any ‘club’ in the Buff Club.”

– “The Buff Club is great for Buff fans who live in the area and can take advantages of the many benefits of joining, which is necessary since it is a discounted tax break as a result of those benefits. However, if you do not live in the area and do your best to visit once or twice a year but you can afford to give, then there is no point to joining the Buff Club. As I am sure you are aware, a majority of Buff fans live out of state and so it makes no sense to join the Buff Club, which is why the number is probably so low.”

– “IMO the point is the CU admin/athletic department is not up to the task. If they had capable and competent people this would not be an issue but they fail to see the error of their ways. Why is everyone surprised at the lack of monetary support to the Buff Club? If Bohn (terrible business and marketing mind) had a team of smart, resourceful people this would not be an issue. A modern service would be in place to help donors with donations, tickets, how to donate and to what causes, contacting donors, keeping donors informed, setting goals for what the money is going towards and give donors the options for donating to what causes, etc. It is not that hard but the admin and Bohn fails to do it. Until the admin gets serious about CU athletics why should the fan base? Why should the fan base be expected to throw money at an admin that is incapable or proper marketing and management? I can clearly understand why donor levels are pathetic. We could be worse than the Rams in this regard. It is JV hour as far as I am concerned.”

– “If your goal is to be real high on the priority point list you should just give money to the Excellence Fund and wait for your day in the Sun at the 50 yard line to receive your game ball from Bohn. Otherwise purchasing 2 or more season tickets to support the FB or BB teams, parking passes, required ticket donations, attending away games, etc. will add up to a much greater expense with far less of a point return (let alone a sporting event return given what we’ve seen on the FB field of the past hand full of seasons).”

– “I’m convinced they monkey with the numbers and give more points towards those who donate $ vs. buying tickets. My dad had 4 tickets in Sec 107 for almost 40 consecutive years, yet when we would get seated in the 5th level for games at Invesco (vs. our 30 yard line seats in Folsom), we were told it was because he didn’t have enough points to be on the lower level. It definitely did not add up.”

In the interests of full disclosure, I have been a Buff Club member for years. My “Priority Ranking” is 798 out of 9277, with the latter number representing the total number of current accounts with the Buff Club of donor and non-donor season ticket holder accounts. Last year, I was in the 900’s, meaning that between my donation – and the dropoff of some long-time loyal, dedicated Buff fans – I moved up over 100 spots in one year.

The frustration with the product on the field is understandable. Colorado has been playing football for 123 years, but the program has never before asked its fans to endure seven consecutive losing seasons. The 2012 team was particularly poor, as the numbers reflect:

– Most Points Allowed, Season – 552 (Previous record, 475, 1980)

– Most Yards Allowed, Season – 5,862 (Previous record, 5,711, 2011)

– Most Yards Allowed per play, Season – 7.11 – 824 plays for 5,862 yards (Previous record, 6.59, in 1980 – 775 plays for 5,108 yards)

– Highest Total Average Yards per game, Season – 488.5 in 12 games (Previous record, 464.4 – 5,108 yards in 11 games in 1980)

So why donate money to the Buff Club, when even the most ardent fans acknowledge that the string of losing seasons is very likely to stretch to eight, and perhaps nine or ten?

“Belief without Evidence”.

That’s what then Colorado assistant coach Gary Barnett talked about when referencing the contract extension given to Bill McCartney after posting a 7-25-1 record in his first three seasons. Barnett then went on to use that same phrase on his Northwestern players, when Barnett took the Wildcats to the Rose Bowl for the first time in almost 50 seasons.

It’s a chicken and the egg conundrum for the Buff Nation. Colorado fans want a winning product, but it’s going to take money to help finance the improvement in facilities which will make the Buffs competitive in recruiting. Better facilities help with recruiting. Better recruiting spawns more wins, which spawns more money, which spawns more improvements, which spawns better players, which spawns more wins.

To break out of the negative cycle, it’s going to take a seismic shift. In 1985, Colorado broke a six season losing streak with a combination of good coaching, good players, a supportive administration … and a switch to the wishbone offense.

Assuming new head coach Mike MacIntyre isn’t planning on implementing the wishbone offense, it’s going to take a combination of the other factors to turn the program around. A lack of administrative support has been a burr under the saddle of many Buff fans for years. There are signs – the $5 million annual allotment for salaries as an example – that the CU administration is finally coming around. The addition of three new assistant coaching positions, including a recruiting coordinator, will help. The Pac-12 money will also be a boon – but those dollars are going to the Buffs’ rivals as well.

So, what will it take to get the Buff Nation to financially step up?

“If you build it, they will come” … ?

There is now a “Sustainable Excellence Fund” option for donors to CU athletics, with those funds specifically earmarked towards Folsom Field improvements. This spring there will be an announcement concerning facilities improvements (okay, so this was the same announcement which was supposed to come this past summer, then August, then at the pregame event leading up to the UCLA game).

Perhaps that announcement will spark a groundswell of donations.

Perhaps then the BuffClub donor list will see a significant increase.


Until then, I encourage you to consider becoming a Buff Club member when considering your year-end donations. Here is the link to the BuffClub page at

Buff fans were asking for a change in coaches. They got what they asked for.

Now it’s our turn to step up.

4 Replies to “Buff Club Worth Joining?”

  1. It is correct that priority points don,t mean a great deal. I give more than the minimum required for my tickets and parking, and have done so for long enough that my priority number is 312. I still have to pay up to avoid nose-bleed seats at Mile High.

    The Buff club needs to offer somw attention and benefit to being a member.


  2. It seems the athletic department needs to re-prioritize its marketing to the alumni. I would think researching how successful clubs from other universities structure their departments then organize and market to their alumni. By successful, I’m talking about the universities with winning traditions and strong alumni support such as Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, etc. Mike Bohn should have staff that could do that… if he doesn’t and the university can’t afford it, have the business/marketing school do this as a project.

  3. They pay several people a lot of money to create excitement and members for the Buff club. A house cleaning a la football team would be in order here as well. Get the right people in the buff club, change some of their dumb policies and watch 25,000 people sign up.

  4. The Priority points are a joke unless you give really big. Even though I had been a ticket holder for 10+ years I dropped them when Bohnhead renewed Hawkins, and I didn’t lose anything short or long term really. My in-laws are ~80, have had tickets since the 60’s and routinely get placed in the nosebleeds for csu. The administration is a joke and this coaching search exemplified that fact. They are very lucky to have such a great basketball staff, but they will be hard to hold on to for the long term with the way the department operates. Although the move to the Pac-12 was great, Mike Bohnhead has not done any real fundraising that I have seen, except for guilt-tripping and begging the everyday donors. I cannot in good conscience, give any more $ than my season ticket requirement while Mike Bohnhead is still in charge of spending that money.

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