SBJ/May 26 - June 1, 2003/This Weeks Issue

Auburn swimming coach Marsh on the clock with Colorado Time

Auburn's national championship swim coach, Dave Marsh, signed a two-year endorsement deal with scoreboard provider Colorado Time Systems.

The agreement allows Colorado Time Systems to use Marsh as a company spokesman at trade shows and in advertisements, said Evan Morgenstein, president of Premier Management Group, which represents Marsh.

Auburn’s Dave Marsh coached the NCAA men’s and women’s swim champs.

Auburn's Marsh earlier this year became the first coach in NCAA history to win national championships for men's and women's swimming in the same year.

The deal marks the first time Colorado Time Systems has sought an individual endorser.

"We've been the leaders in the aquatic market and are always striving for excellence," said Anita Sayed, president and CEO of Colorado Time Systems. "Dave Marsh is doing in the coaching field exactly what we strive to do in our field. He is the ideal spokesperson. There was really no other choice."

Morgenstein would not provide the exact value of Marsh's deal but said it is in the mid-five figures annually.

In addition to Colorado Time, Marsh also endorses TYR Sport, the Tigers' swim apparel supplier.

GANG GREEN: The University of North Texas, with its sights set on doubling its football season-ticket sales, has enlisted local businessmen to help sell the Mean Green as part of its new football ticket sales campaign: Operation Double.

"We wanted to do something that people would get excited about," said Ryan Barnhart, director of sales and development for North Texas athletics.

The main component of Operation Double (the name was chosen before the war in Iraq began) is the Mean Green Battalion, a volunteer ticket sales force of doctors, lawyers, bankers and barbers, all of whom have supported the department. The group was formed in February with about 20 members. Membership has since grown to about 40.

Battalion members are given a packet of season-ticket and departmental info as well as a "hit list" of potential ticket buyers and asked to solicit athletic department donations and ticket sales for the football team, Barnhart said.

"Instead of us calling on these businesspeople to buy tickets, it's now their friends, who already have tickets, who are calling them and asking them to consider buying tickets," Barnhart said.

As an incentive for the battalion to spread the word about the Mean Green, the athletic department devised a point program that gives members a point for every $100 donation or new season ticket sold.

Ten points will earn you "cadet" status, a hat, window decal and game programs for all home games. One hundred points will get you "commander in chief" status, a trip to an away game of your choice, a seasonlong field pass for all Mean Green home games and a golf outing for you and a pal with the North Texas AD and coach of your choice, among other things.

In addition to an incentive program, the athletic department hosts lunches, breakfasts or happy hours every other week for battalion members and their guests, Barnhart said. A luncheon for battalion members and about 100 guests was scheduled for last Friday.

Thanks to the battalion, North Texas has increased season-ticket sales by about 30 percent, from 2,100 last year to 2,800, Barnhart said. He pointed out that season-ticket renewal requests went out only this month and that the program's traditional print, radio and television ticket campaign won't begin until June.

Last season, the Mean Green averaged 17,500 a home game.

Barnhart said the department wants to double its season-ticket sales and increase its attendance by 50 percent this season, which would ensure the program's compliance with NCAA Division I-A standards.

ODDS AND ENDS: The University of Pittsburgh hired Oklahoma senior associate AD Jeff Long as its next athletic director. Long replaces Steve Pederson, who left Pitt to take the AD post at Nebraska. ... Colorado State received a $15.2 million donation from the Bohemian Foundation for a planned renovation at Hughes Stadium and named the field at Hughes Stadium after its football coach, Sonny Lubick. ... The NCAA hired Short's Travel Management as its exclusive travel agency. Short's will provide travel services to the association for championships, meetings and other events beginning Sept. 1.

Jennifer Lee can be reached at jlee@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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