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GEE. NO, GTE: GTE USES NCAA DEAL TO REPLACE NFL SPONSORSHIP
Published September 10, 1996
After "pulling out of its decade-long" sponsorship with the NFL, GTE has signed a four-year deal to become the official telecom sponsor of the NCAA, according to Terry Lefton of BRANDWEEK. GTE will aim to get involved in college football, possibly by supplying technology, including coaches' headsets, to visible NCAA programs within its regions. But the "full-fledged" promotional support, including a Final Four promo and a likely phone card program, "won't be visible" until the college basketball season starts later this year. GTE replaces Sprint, which dropped its NCAA sponsorship after paying $72M for a three- year NFL deal earlier this year. BRANDWEEK's Lefton notes an NCAA source familiar with the deal said GTE feels the NCAA deal "opens more doors to the kinds of things they want to do to leverage the sponsorship and with something that's probably less than a tenth the cost of an NFL package and they can throw more media weight against it than they were able to put behind the NFL." Terms of the deal were not revealed, though Lefton's sources said it includes a "considerable" exchange of in-kind services. Lefton's sources also said that while GTE had conversations with the NHL, the company felt the academic ties and demographic connections for GTE's prime markets were stronger with the NCAA. GTE's sports marketing agency, Stamford, CT-based Millsport, declined to comment (BRANDWEEK, 9/9 issue).