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DEBATE BREWING OVER BEER SPONSORSHIP OF COLLEGE ATHLETICS
Published April 22, 1998
The relationship between alcoholic beverage companies and intercollegiate athletics is examined by Kay Hawes of the NCAA NEWS, who writes that while some institutions "have turned to alcoholic beverage distributorships and brewing companies to sponsor athletics events, tournaments or teams," other schools have established "strict policies that prohibit such partnerships," while other institutions "are on the fence." At Fresno State, Asst. VP/Univ. Relations John Zelezny said, "We have relationships now with [at] least a couple of local [alcoholic beverage] distributors. ... It poses a difficult problem for us, because on one hand it's important not to promote abuse of the product. On the other hand, we got rid of prohibition as a society decades ago." At UNC-Chapel Hill, there are no promotions with alcoholic beverage companies. Tar Heel Network radio carrier Village Co. went so far as to create a "Don't Get Wasted" PSA campaign for UNC. The Univ. of MN last fall "began to re-examine its relationship" with alcoholic beverage companies, reducing a three-year deal with Minnesota Brewing to one year. Univ. of MN Asst. AD/ External Ops Pat Forciea cited the "increasing number of drinking-related incidents across the nation" and said, "The right thing to do was to end our relationship. It was also the expensive thing to do." MN's athletic department received about $250,000 from alcoholic beverage companies. Last month, U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) "proposed a resolution in the U.S. Senate that includes recommendations that universities not enter into sponsorship agreements with alcoholic beverage companies" (NCAA NEWS, 4/6 issue). IN DEFENSE: John Kaestner, A-B Senior Group Dir/ Consumer Awareness & Education, defended beer companies' role in promoting college athletics and noted "a lot of that funding generated by sponsorships helps fund ... sports like track, baseball and women's sports" (NCAA NEWS, 4/6 issue).