October means one thing inside Walsh Gym. Seton Hall basketball is coming.
While the season opener is still over a month away, Pirate Blue, the athletic department’s fundraising organization that raises money for the 14 Division I athletic programs at Seton Hall and every athlete, will host the sixth annual Beefsteak Tip-Off Dinner on Thursday.
The event brings both men’s and women’s basketball programs together with the programs’ supporters to celebrate the upcoming season.
“I cannot believe this is our sixth annual Beefsteak,” Brian Felt, Associate Athletic Director for Development and External Affairs, said. “I remember when we created the event and I don’t think any of us thought it would grow this quickly and become this much of a signature event for our program.”
Six years ago, the event was held in the main lounge of the University Center. “We were very happy to have had 250 people attend,” Felt said. The department raised $23,000 for the basketball programs. Last year, there were 440 attendees and over $76,000 dollars was raised. “We expect to set a new record in funds raised,” Felt added when looking at what to expect this year.
“It means so much to me and the rest of our program to be able to spend the night with our outstanding supporters,” women’s basketball coach Tony Bozzella said. “I felt the love and support the minute I stepped on this campus as a student. Coming back to coach here has made me feel it even more. I’m really excited for a night like this to interact with those that are a huge part of the Seton Hall family.”
Pirate Blue’s success has created more initiatives than just the Beefsteak Tip-Off Dinner. For the first time in the history of the organization, the athletic department’s fundraising arm exceeded $2 million for the 2014 fiscal year. With this fundraising, the athletic department has been in the process of renovating the entire Richie Regan Athletic Center as part of the Pride and Excellence Campaign.
On top of an academic center that was installed for athletes to privately go to for studying and a new center for sports medicine, the next phase of the project is to build locker rooms for all 14 teams. The project is expected to be done by the winter.
“So many of our alumni, parents, and fans have been incredibly loyal to Pirate Blue,” Felt said. “This continuous support helps us attract top student-athletes and provide them with the Seton Hall experience.”
“My Seton Hall experience would not be the same without the great projects that Pirate Blue has done,” junior cross country runner Ryan Flannery said. “Our facilities are state-of-the-art.”
Thursday’s event is completely sold out. The night begins at 6 p.m. with a cocktail hour before dinner at 7 p.m. Items ranging from Seton Hall legendary jerseys and memorabilia to a Michael Strahan signed painting will be up for auction.
John Fanta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @John_Fanta.