SBJ/June 26 - July 2, 2000/Marketingsponsorship

Southern Miss signs with ISP to avoid deficit

The University of Southern Mississippi's athletic department is banking on International Sports Properties Inc., its new marketing partner, to help keep the department from running another deficit, university officials said.

The department signed a four-year deal with ISP earlier this month with a goal of getting the program back on sound financial footing, said Richard Giannini, Southern Miss' athletic director. Last year the department ran a $500,000 deficit. This year it anticipates a $700,000 deficit, Giannini said.

Signing an outside marketing firm was a strategy to raise revenue while cutting back on internal staff costs, he said. The deal gives ISP rights to Southern Miss' radio and television programs, sponsorships, Web design and print publications. The company will pay a guaranteed minimum of $450,000 plus a percentage of sales above that, Giannini said. ISP will also staff three full-time employees in Hattiesburg, Miss., to run the account.

There's a lot of potential in the new account, said Ben Sutton, president of ISP.

"Overall, the property has been vastly underdeveloped in terms of radio, television ... the entire package really," Sutton said. "And we believe that with the program going in the right direction, it has huge upside potential."

With ISP's help, the athletic department should be able to increase its marketing revenue from $500,000 to more than $1 million annually, Giannini said.

"We should be in good shape next year," he said.

In addition to the ISP deal, the athletic department has implemented several other money-saving and revenue-generating efforts, including cutting its men's cross-country and indoor track teams, raising football ticket prices and playing more games with guaranteed payouts.

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