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!
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.
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
which are currently set at $5.
Code of Regulations
Articles of Incorporation
IRS Exemption Letter
SARA Summer Boat Use Policy
Please Note: The Spartan Alumni Rowing Association (SARA) is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization whose
mission is to support the sport of rowing at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) by serving as the alumni association
for CWRU Crew. SARA is an independent organization; it is not affiliated with, or sponsored by,
CWRU. The activities of SARA include fundraising for the short and long term benefit
of CWRU Crew. Funds contributed to SARA do not come under the control of CWRU; any such funds are disbursed
at the discretion of SARA.