What's in a name?

The group is named the Spartan Alumni Rowing Association (S.A.R.A.). We are an organization dedicated to supporting Case Crew and connecting rowing alumni and friends affiliated with CWRU. We are a separate 501(c)3 from the team and university.

The "Spartan" is the mascot of Case Western Reserve University. The can read about the history of the school mascot here. We avoided the use of anything overtly related to the university to avoid any potential complaints or legal issues associated with using part of the Case name. The Spartan is the mascot of countless other schools so we see no conflict of interest between our use of this name and the university. But no mistake about it, we are an organization devoted to furthering the prospects of Case Crew, and we need your help!

Spartan Logo

Why S.A.R.A. Was Created

The Spartan Alumni Rowing Association was formed to provide a support structure for the rowing team at Case and an up-to-date information source for rowers, parents and alumni. Case Crew was founded in 1991 as a sports club at Case. As a sports club, the students organize themselves, fund themselves, and structure training themselves. Even if the team had the money, they are not allowed to pay a coach so the team has always relied on a dedicated group of volunteer coaches. Success of the club from year to year depends on a small core of dedicated students to take the necessary burden themselves. This burden is only exacerbated by the meager funds provided by the school (typically less than $2,000 for the entire year) and the amount of bureaucracy involved in running a sports club on campus.

For years there has always been a loose association of alumni around the Cleveland area that would lend a hand when needed.

Case Crew is one of two teams on campus that basically have to fundraise for their existence (the other being Ice Hockey). Think about it. All of the other varsity and club teams have facilities provided by the school or city for free: swimming pools, various courts for volleyball, basketball, whirlyball and tennis, playing fields for soccer, ultimate, lacrosse and cricket. You name it. The cycling club can even use the city streets. However, the rowing team must pay rent for the boathouse and the hockey team must buy ice time. As a result, a major drain on club finances is just paying for a place to row and this consideration is not taken into account by the school, athletic department, and sports club director.

Alumni and students did some serious fundraising in 1995 and were able to purchase the Sweet J, a 1995 Vespoli coxed four. The boat has been owned and maintained by alumni for the benefit of the team, but without any formal structure. Buying equipment for and through the university is a cumbersome task due to the university bidding process and the school's overall lack of knowledge of the sport. So one of the key support roles going forward for the SARA is the purchase and maintenance of equipment for Case Crew. If you'd like to see a list of SARA-owned equipment click here - The Spartan Navy. A longer term goal is to provide funding for coaching since the team is explicitly prohibited from doing so by the university (the only such restriction among any of Case's peer schools).

In 2002 a couple students from the team approached a couple alumni for donations. After securing commitments from the alums for over $1000, the students were confronted with the impossibility of channeling this money directly into the team. The university's development office and athletic department offered very little encouragement that the money would actually show up in the team's account. Once deposited, this money would then be under the discretion and restrictions of the sports club director.

So in 2003 the alums and Tim Marcovy, the long-time coach of Case Crew and extraordinary lawyer, volunteered to complete the necessary paper work and create the structure needed to make the Spartan Alumni Rowing Association a reality. Besides funding for the team, one of the biggest goals for the association is to provide continuity from year to year as key students graduate.

After a long application process, SARA was granted tax exempt status by the IRS in March 2006. Being a 501(c)(3) organization means that we do not pay federal taxes and any contributions to us are tax deductible.

S.A.R.A Is Not Unique

Many other rowing alumni groups exist - it's how the sport has been funded for over 100 years. Rowing is a capital intensive sport. Boats, trailers, boathouses, docks and coaching are expensive, and these resources are not often shared with other sports. e.g. A volleyball court can also be used for a number of other purposes.

Even very large programs depend on alumni, friends and parents to fund major portions of their programs. Most boathouses and boats have the name of a generous donor emblazoned on them. At Cornell, roughly 18% the rowing team's $900,000 annual operating budget comes from alumni donations. Rowing at MIT is the university's only Division I level sport (the other 36 are Division III) and alumni support 22-30% of that team's operating budget. MIT Alumni have also created endowments for each coaching position and numerous rowing shells. For approximately $100,000 you can have your name on a shell forever. The men's crew at Yale is 100% funded by endowments. Here is an example of how a perpetual boat fund endowment was structured at the University of Wisconsin with over 100 donors: The Jablonic Boat Fund.

Links to other alumni groups similar to S.A.R.A.:
M.I.T.     Syracuse University     Georgetown University     Cal Berkeley
University of Chicago     University of Rochester     Northwestern University     Cornell University
Ohio State University     Bucknell University     College of the Holy Cross     Washington University in St. Louis
University of Texas     U.C.L.A.     University of Washington     Rutgers University
Princeton University     Washington State University     University of Wisconsin     University of California - Irvine
Georgia Tech     Yale University     Dartmouth College     Boston College

SARA has been so successful that many of these organizations have patterned themselves after us!

How To Join

The good news is that if you've ever been a member of Case Crew you are automatically a member of SARA! You will get periodic email updates from us if we have a current email for you. To become a "voting" member, you must pay dues, which are currently set at $5.

Organizational Documents


Code of Regulations

Articles of Incorporation

IRS Exemption Letter

SARA Summer Boat Use Policy


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© Spartan Alumni Rowing Association
S.A.R.A. is an independent, not for profit 501(c)(3) corporation.
Last modified: April 17, 2019
Supporting Case Crew and the Spartan Navy since 2003