JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – East Tennessee State University’s (ETSU) Athletic Department announced a new initiative titled “Be G.R.E.A.T”, and the department has just started a fundraiser to get that initiative off the ground.

G.R.E.A.T is an acronym for Grateful, Resilient, Excited, All-In and Together. The initiative is designed to help student-athletes succeed, both in and out of sports.

“We just felt that we needed a little bit different focus as to how to engage with our student-athletes, and create a great experience,” said Dr. Richard Sander, ETSU’s athletic director. “What’s involved in it is a lot of things. Things like nutrition, and things like mental health, things like sports psychology, things like career placement.”

In order to get the initiative off the ground, the department is launching its “I Give a Buc” campaign, asking for financial support from the community. The campaign is asking for donors to give $1 a day, for a total of $365 a year. Sander said his goal is for 1,000 donors to join the campaign.

“We’re not asking people to give, you know, thousands and thousands of dollars,” said Sander. “We’re asking for a dollar a day.”

Sander said the 2022-23 fiscal year was a challenge for the athletic department, having to bounce back from Covid-19. He believes the initiative will get their finances in a better standing.

“We’re expecting, you know, our cost to be great of about a half million dollars a year,” said Sander. “So I hope people will get behind this and make this happen.”

ETSU’s athletes hope to win the community’s support in bringing the initiative to fruition.

“I’d love for them to get the money, get the support and get the love that they deserve,” said Max Evans, a Junior on the Football team. “I know a lot of these student-athletes, they work so hard all the time. I would just like to see them reap the benefits of this.”

“I think it’s a good message and just a good mindset to have–to get better and be great,” said Jaden Seymour, a Junior on the Basketball Team.

Although the campaign is only 2 weeks old, some members of the community are already on board.

“I think you can even start small and try and get people involved,” said Dottie Stump, a supporter of ETSU Athletics. “I think they’re going to be more willing to do so.”

Those interested in learning more about the initiative and making a donation can visit