Combining one's vocation with a beloved avocation seems like a dream come true. So it is for Dan Levitan, who co-founded Seattle-based venture capital firm Maveron along with Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz, just loves basketball, especially as it's played by his alma mater Duke University's Blue Devils, who play Louisiana State University tonight as one of the NCAA championship tournament's Sweet Sixteen. The school has scored with the Duke Basketball Venture Capital Co-Investment Fund, which, The Wall Street Journal reports, is the only VC offering dedicated to a single college sports team. Funds like Levitan's allow sports fans to help pump up otherwise struggling programs. But, according to the Journal, relying on returns from speculative investments could someday backfire if the fund falters – and the school has to pick up the tab. Further, cash-rich programs may only fuel the salary demands of top coaches – Duke's Mike Krzyzewski earned $1.4 million in 2003, the Journal reports. And there are Title IX considerations, which require substantially proportionate opportunities for both male and female sports.
The Duke basketball fund doesn't appear to create such a situation at this time. It currently has only $1 million AUM, but that could change if it reaches its ultimate goal: to raise $75 million for a permanent men's team endowment.