Islander Athletics Hit the Jackpot with Casino Night: Raised $100K for Student Scholarships

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Blackjack, Texas Hold’em, and illuminated slot machines were just some of the festivities that Islanders Athletic Fund (IAF) supporters enjoyed at the “Viva Las Vegas” themed fundraiser that brought in a record-breaking $100,000 in donations. The IAF Casino Night was hosted by the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Department of Athletics on Saturday, Aug. 4, to raise funds to impact Islander student-athletes through scholarships and other program enhancements.  

“Resources are critical for a Division I athletic department – we are fortunate to have 16 teams and 250 student-athletes,” shared Travis Whipple, Deputy Athletic Director for External Relations and Development. “Casino Night is our premier fundraiser, and historically the department raised $40,000 from it. This year I am excited to say, we more than doubled donations and sold over 400 tickets.”

The event was in full swing as fans and supporters enjoyed the bright lights, big money, and tons of action. Each guest started off the night with Izzy dollars, but unlucky players could purchase more to keep the dice rolling. A newly implemented mobile bidding system allowed participates on the casino floor, and at home, to take part in the silent auction from their phones. Autographed memorabilia, beautiful paintings, jewelry, and even vacation getaways were all accessed with ease. In addition, attendees could participate in a live auction.

“Everything has just been fantastic! The great silent auction, live auction, food, and company is why I keep coming back every year,” said Patrick O’Boyle. “It’s certainly for a good cause, and I couldn’t find a better way to spend our time, effort, and money. Go Islanders!”

Money collected throughout the night from selling extra Izzy dollars, the auctions, and on-the-spot donations doubled the impact from pre-event ticket and table sales. At the end of the evening, the guest who won the most chips was honored with a trophy. For the second year in a row, Jason's Deli matched all IAF donations leading up to and at Casino Night.

“An event like Casino Night has a number of levels of impact in my opinion,” said Interim Director of Athletics Willis Wilson. “It’s great to see so many friends come out and support our University and our athletic department. In particular, to see them support our student-athletes who work so hard in the classroom and on the field. It is such a big deal for us to bring people together for such a worthy cause.”

This was also the first year the event had an organizing and planning committee. The committee consisted of IAF board members as well as several community members and was chaired by Denise Housler. Presenting sponsors for the 2018 IAF Casino Night included Conni Geary from Wells Fargo Advisors and Jay Wise from Merrill Lynch.

Individuals who could not attend the event but still want to support Islanders Athletics can do so by making a donation, attending games, or even purchasing season tickets.