|Dan Topolski, 1945-2015 (OUBC photo).|
The fund has been announced by Olympic silver medallist and three-time Oxford Blue, Colin Smith (St Catz, 2003).
Dan Topolski was born June 4, 1945 and died on February 21, 2015 at 69 after a long illness. Topolski was the coach of the 10-times-winning Oxford Blue Boat in 1987 when the Oxford Mutiny occurred, one of the most famous events in boat racing history. His side of the story was told in True Blue.
He was a riveting speaker at the April 3, 2008 Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race Dinner in New York City. (Other rowers who spoke that evening were Saman Majd, Kate Weber, and the late Peter Darrow.)
The Topolski Fund is a permanent endowment fund to support all four rowing clubs (the Men’s, Women’s, Men’s Lightweight and Women’s Lightweight), and is anchored by a £12 million (nearly $15 million at $1.22 to the £) donation made by a small group of anonymous donors.
The donation is made up of a £10 million donation and £2 million in matched funding towards a target of £20 million. Colin Smith notes the need for the donation stemming from declining sponsorship as TV rights incomes shrunk. He says the clubs have sought to replace lost income through merchandise sales, corporate events and fundraising. However, in the meantime, budget cuts have had to be made such as staff wage freezes and cancelled new boats.
The endowment is the first at Oxford requiring equal treatment of men and women. Funds are held on trust for the Oxford University Rowing Association (OURA), a new association comprising the four University clubs. Each club is equally represented on the OURA, which also includes three independent trustees.
The endowment is permanent, with only the income available for disbursement, and is managed by Oxford University Endowment Management Limited (OUEM), led by Sandra Robertson.
The clubs receive funds when there is a shortfall in sponsorship income, meaning the Topolski Fund will top up club income to a "foundation budget". The lightweight clubs will therefore benefit especially from sponsorship of The Boat Race because they have been less well funded.
Other Oxford Rowing Posts: Rowing Blazers (Oxford Today) . Rowing Blazers (this blog) . Torpids and Summer Eights . Dan Topolski (Telegraph) . Dan Topolski (this blog). Boat Race History