Scott Rabenold

Guard, 1996-1998

December 19, 2014

Written by Mitch Smith

As Iowa prepares for a matchup with Tennessee in the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl, Scott Rabenold is faced with a dilemma.

He encountered the same problem earlier this year during the NCAA basketball tournament.

Root for the employer or the alma mater?

Rabenold, 40, — a member of the Iowa basketball team from 1996-98 — is the Vice Chancellor of Development and Alumni Affairs at the University of Tennessee. He heads a group of about 100 employees tasked with all fundraising efforts at the institution.

He wasn’t a name you’d find often in the Iowa box score — the walk-on scored just 31 points in his Hawkeye basketball career.

Although game action was limited, the Montezuma native played a vital role in practice.  He earned most valuable player recognition for being the top player on Iowa’s scout team — what Iowa head coach Tom Davis called the “Gray Team.”

“I didn’t have a career where I scored a lot of points or played a lot of minutes,” Rabenold said. “I was an Iowa boy who grew up always wanting to be a Hawkeye. That experience built a foundation of skills that helped me become a better father and professional.”

When he did get into the game, he made the most of it. He vividly remembers a road game in February 1998 when the Hawkeyes faced fifth-ranked Purdue. Iowa pulled off the upset, 88-69, and Rabenold knocked down a 3-pointer with 10 seconds to go in the game.scott

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After graduating from Iowa, Rabenold aspired to be a basketball coach or athletic director, but realized his true passion was fundraising. He was hired at Tennessee in 2002 after stints in athletic fundraising roles at Wake Forest and Memphis.

Under the former Hawkeye’s leadership, the Volunteers have been recognized as a top 20 university fundraising team, and have made vast improvements to its athletic facilities.

“I’ve experienced the importance of generosity both personally and professionally,” Rabenold said. “When you are generous with your time and resources, it enables you to find positive perspective on your experiences.”

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Most recently, he led a $1.3 billion University donation program. At the beginning of 2014, Tennessee was one of only 35 public universities to cross the $1 billion mark in a single fundraising campaign.

“Scott is deeply committed to our mission to become a top 25 public research university,” said Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek. “His passion for working with our alumni and donors has resulted in great relationships and significant growth in philanthropy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.”

His philanthropic efforts aren’t just limited to the University. The married father of three also serves on the National Board of Directors for Bethany Christian Services — one of the largest adoption agencies in the world. Two of Rabenold’s children are adopted and the family is in the process of adopting another child.

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“My wife and I have been much more blessed than we’ve deserved,” he said. “One of the blessings is having our eyes opened to the world of adoption. It’s an honor to provide leadership and direction to an organization helping to put children in homes.”

Since he’ll be working during the bowl game, the former Hawkeye will be wearing Volunteer Orange, but the family plans to attend the Hawkeye Huddle festivities to experience the excitement from the Black & Gold perspective, as well.

Earlier this year, Rabenold was at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for Iowa’s 70-49 over Northern Illinois earlier this year. His oldest son was a ball boy during the game, and had the chance to get his T-Shirt autographed by Mike Gesell — a T-Shirt he proudly wore to school after the Hawkeyes upset North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

“Iowa is an important part of our family,” Rabenold said. “It’s how my wife and I met, and it’s a great part of our history.”

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