IPTAY is widely regarded as the father of athletic fundraising. The IPTAY Scholarship Fund traces its roots to the 1930s. Dr. Rupert Fike is credited with being the originator of IPTAY, but the seed that Dr. Fike needed for his now much-envied group was planted there by then Head Football Coach Jess Neely.
On October 16, 1931, Clemson suffered a surprising 6-0 loss against The Citadel in a game played in Florence, SC. After the game, Captain Frank J. Jervey, Head Coach Jess Neely, assistant coach Joe Davis and Captain Pete Heffner of the university military staff met in a car outside the stadium to discuss ways Clemson could help its football program get back on track. The meeting started the ball rolling towards the establishment of the IPTAY Foundation. Clemson would score just three touchdowns and win just one game during the 1931 season.
Soon Fike came into the picture through correspondence with Jervey. Jervey wanted to form the "50 ($50) Club" but Fike wanted a smaller amount, which he thought, would mean more members and more money. Neely believed that if he could get $10,000 a year, he could give the Clemson fans a winning football team.
Then in 1934, Dr. Fike wrote his now famous letter to Neely, stating "Last night we had a little meeting at our house and organized the IPTAY club." So began Clemson's athletic support group, which in those days, stood for "I Pay Ten A Year." At this time the purpose of IPTAY was "to provide annual financial support to the athletic department at Clemson, and to assist in every way possible to regain for Clemson the high athletic standing which rightfully belongs to her."
The organization was first established as a secret organization and initial membership dues were set at $10.00 a year (I Pay Ten A Year). A little more than $1,600.00 came into the coffers the first year of IPTAY, even in the heart of the Great Depression. Some payments were made in the form of barter. Milk, sweet potatoes, turnip greens and the like were accepted in the initial efforts to build membership.
The excitement about the organization carried over into the 1934 season and the Tigers ran to their first winning season since 1930. Clemson had gone 0-5-1 against Furman and South Carolina in those years, then defeated both teams in 1934. The fruits of the labor really began to pay off in 1938, said former Clemson publicist Joe Sherman. In 1938, Clemson went 8-1-1 and the following season, Neely coached Clemson to its first bowl game, the 1940 Cotton Bowl, where the Tigers capped a 9-1-0 season by beating Boston College and Hall of Fame Coach Frank Leahy 6-3. Clemson ended the season ranked 12th in the final Associated Press poll, its first top 20 season in history. Boston College was ranked 11th going into the game and it was Clemson's first win over a top 20 team in its history.
With over 22,000 combined members in the 2006 fiscal year, the organization plays a major role in ensuring that all 19 of the varsity sports at Clemson are given the maximum amount of scholarships offered by the NCAA. IPTAY donors have contributed over $200 million since the inception of IPTAY, including over $14 million in 2006 fiscal year.
In accordance with the IPTAY Constitution, the four priorities are as follows:
The payment of the annual cost of athletic scholarships.
The payment or reimbursement of the operating expenses of IPTAY.
The establishment and maintenance of an adequate reserve fund deemed appropriate by the IPTAY Board of Directors.
Any expenditures other than those established under the previous three priorities, shall be limited to either direct or indirect aids to the athletic program of Clemson University and must be approved by the IPTAY Board of Directors.
While the basic principles of IPTAY outlined in 1934 remain the same, the scope of IPTAY has grown tremendously. Not only does this unique organization provide for athletic scholarships, but IPTAY is a key toward building and maintaining the outstanding facilities that are essential for Clemson to remain as one of the top intercollegiate athletic programs in the United States.
In recent years, IPTAY has broadened its scope by building and renovating facilities that can be used by the entire Clemson University family - students, faculty, and administrators. In 1991 IPTAY funded the construction of a 27,000 square foot facility to accommodate the extended schedules and needs of student-athletes. When this facility, Vickery Hall, opened in 1991 it was the first support facility in the country built solely for the all-around education of student athletes. Even today, Vickery Hall and its programs are completely supported by funds from IPTAY. Unfortunately, with the escalating cost of tuition, IPTAY will be limited in its future funding of programs outside of the cost of athletic scholarships.
While the four priorities of IPTAY are the guiding force of the organization, the mission of Clemson University has not been overlooked either. The IPTAY Academic Scholarship Endowment was created to help meet the need for more academic scholarships for non-athletes who are qualified academically. The IPTAY Academic Scholarship Fund is presently the second largest scholarship of its kind at Clemson, and has helped more than 1200 students attend Clemson University.
IPTAY, under the guidance of its Board of Directors, is continuously making improvements and adding programs to enhance the organization and university. In recent years, some of the most impressive changes have been the addition of the Tiger Cub Club, IPTAY CATS (Clemson Active Teen Support), and the IPTAY Collegiate Club.It is now focused on the WestZone Club, the fund-raising effort to greatly enhance the West Endzone area of Memorial Stadium, and the construction of a “One Clemson” museum, which will document the history of the university and its athletic program.
IPTAY is expecting even more growth in the coming years and its member’s track record of loyalty and generosity is well documented. Those loyalists include Alan McC. Johnstone of Orangeburg, SC, the only one of IPTAY’s 110 charter members that remains active. With his help and the help of many like him, it is no wonder IPTAY heads into its 73rd year as strong as ever.
"Supporting Academics through Athletics"