Guest Commentary: The economic might of the state of Washington compared to rest of Pac suggests Cougar fans can reach deeper into wallets

OF ALL THE statistics you’re likely to read about in the run up to Cougar football season, this one is probably the most illuminating: Gross Domestic Product!

Yep, the same GDP — as in the measurement of the market value of total goods and services produced — you once read about in economics class.

My good friends at ran a story the other day about fundraising for WSU athletics. It was a great read, which can be found here in case you missed it, but the last sentence really caught my attention.

In short, it said that the economy in the state of Washington outshines those in Oregon, Colorado, Utah and Arizona, therefore donations to WSU should be greater. plans to detail it all in the coming days, but when it comes to philanthropic support for athletics, WSU should be near the top.

As someone I know in Cougar athletics once analogized to me:

An Oregon State alum and Beaver Nation member living in Portland and making $100,000 per year would give $1,000 to OSU’s athletic scholarship fund while a WSU alum and Cougar Athletic Fund member living in Seattle or Spokane and making $100,000 per year might give $100 to the CAF.

Now this is where GDP comes into play.

While the plethora of construction cranes currently arrayed across Western Washington allude to the health of the economy here, I was curious how the relative economic might of the state stacked up against our friends in the Pac-12.

California is basically a nation-state so I didn’t bother with a comparison there, but here’s what I found when it comes to annual GSP — Gross State Product — in the rest of the Pac-12 states.

1. Washington: $449 billion (14th in the nation)
2. Colorado: $317 billion (18th)
3. Arizona: $298 billion (21st)
4. Oregon: $228 billion (25th)
5. Utah: $148 billion (32nd)

These are bona fide 2015 numbers per the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. And what they tell us is this: the state of Washington is an economic force.

Colorado, second on the list, isn’t even close. Neither is Arizona. And we’ve nearly doubled up on Oregon while Utah is keeping company with the likes of Kansas.

The wherewithal is here, fellow Cougs. Now is the time to close the philanthropic gap with the rest of the Pac-12. The stronger our sports programs, the stronger the entire university becomes. Winning teams have proven a boon to fundraising for every sector of a university and student applications skyrocket. Athletics is the single-largest and best marketing tool our school possesses. Working together, through big donations and small, you and I can make a difference for WSU.

To join, renew or increase your donation, head to the Cougar Athletic Fund,

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Glenn Osterhout is a long-time WSU booster and season-ticket holder who operates a wealth management firm in Bellevue. He also is the co-founder of CougsFirst!, a business network that encourages Washington State alumni and friends to do business with each other. is a co-sponsor of CougsFirst!  Click here to learn more about it.

Cougfan Top Stories