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  • Maximizing Revenue through Intellectual Property

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    Navigating the exploding realm of digital and social media remains one of the most daunting and exciting challenges for university administrators and their media partners. There is no shortage of content opportunities for college athletic departments, particularly for Olympic sports that don't get as much exposure on TV and proportionately benefit more from digital distribution. And with digital subscriber and advertising interest continuing to grow, revenue opportunities are also robust. But sorting out the distribution and rights landscapes remain a thorny issue.

    For example, a behind-the-scenes video of a team traveling to its next game – fairly simple content to produce – has quickly proven popular with many schools. But should that material go straight to the university's athletic website? To YouTube? To conference-run cable channels? National media partners? All of the above? And how is the related revenue divided? And how are fans properly directed without getting confused or frustrated?

    Maximizing Revenue through Intellectual Property

    Joe Ferreira, Learfield Sports
    Frank Golding, Google/YouTube
    Mark Harlan, UCLA
    Jon Heidtke, Fox Sports Southwest
    Chris Wagner, Neulion

    "Awareness is a big issue, now that there's so much content and so many avenues," said Joe Ferreira, Learfied Sports’ chief content officer. Added Mark Harlan, UCLA senior associate athletic director for external relations, "The biggest challenge we have is having all the resources to support all this content. We're now all hiring videographers and storytellers. We did the same before with writers, generating content, and now we're doing the same with video. And that comes with a cost."

    Other key comments from the discussion:
    College sports, traditionally strong at the regional and local levels, still has untapped potential as a national entity. "People are buying into college football at those local levels," Ferreira said. “We need to look at how we drive that to a national level.”

    Frank Golding, YouTube's director of pro, college, and high school sports channels, fears a bubble in exploding TV rights fees. "How do we grow the pie?,” he said. “We can't keep offering these kinds of rights fees without growing the pie."

    There is significant opportunity in college sports to develop more whip-around and scoring play-related content. "People want to take the concept of 'Red Zone' and apply it to college," said Chris Wagner, NeuLion executive vice president.

    Tags: Media
  • Dynamic Pricing in College Sports

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    Dynamic pricing in college sports is at an early stage compared to development in the professional ranks. But adjusting prices on the fly based on market conditions at the collegiate level remains an area of keen interest for university administrators and ticketing companies alike.

    Barry Kahn, chief executive of Qcue and a key progenitor in the development of dynamic ticketing across sports, said the goal is not simply to raise and lower prices based on supply and demand, but also to help encourage certain behavioral and purchasing patterns and drive larger, strategic objectives. "For low-demand games, for example, it's not just lowering prices to fill the house. A lot of what you're trying to do in driving revenue is getting people to buy better seats. The last thing you want is somebody in the last row with 30 rows of empty seats in front of them."

    The Future of College Ticketing?

    Dave Butler, Paciolan
    Michael Espada, Florida State University
    Roger Gardner, Learfield Sports
    Barry Kahn, QCue
    Ayo Taylor-Dixon, University of South Florida

    The University of South Florida is a typical example of a college athletic program experimenting with dynamic pricing. The school last year began to dynamically price for football, and has since expanded the program to basketball. But the school shifts prices at most three times for each game, far less than many pro teams that could have dozens of small price changes for any particular game.

    "We're being cautious about it," said Ayo Taylor-Dixon, USF associate athletic director for marketing and revenue development. "We're not yo-yoing our prices. It's about fitting all this into the broader strategy."
    Many schools and their marketing and ticketing partners, not surprisingly, also are aiming to use dynamically priced single-game tickets as leads to help drive future season-ticket sales.

    "If pricing structures can get somebody to sample the product, then you've got a prospect for the season ticket for the following season," said Roger Gardner, vice president of Learfield Sports. "Our job is to create demand. If we do a better job with season tickets, then this fits in nicely."

    Tags: Football, Basketball
  • Two minutes with UConn AD Warde Manuel

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    After he appeared on a panel Wednesday morning, we caught up with UConn AD Warde Manuel to talk about:
    -- How UConn is approaching conference realignment
    -- How he feels about changes in the Big East
    -- Whether those changes have had a negative affect on Big East basketball

    Tags: Basketball
  • The New Breed of Athletics Administrators

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    Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown

    A panel discussion titled, "The New Breed of Athletic Administrators," looked at qualities that define new leaders in today’s college sports.

    Joe Bailey, the managing director of the sports practice at RSR Partners and a former CEO of the Miami Dolphins, said universities are looking for effective leaders with certain qualities: passion, vision, being trustworthy and having an ego strong enough to hire the best people.

    The New Breed of Athletic Administrators

    Joe Bailey, RSR Partners
    Greg Christopher, Bowling Green State
    Steve Patterson, Arizona State
    Tim Pernetti, Rutgers

    Arizona State University AD Steve Patterson made sweeping changes when he joined the school nine months ago after a stint as president of Pro Sports Consulting and 25 years in pro sports with the Houston Rockets, Houston Texans, Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Aeros. "I had to accelerate the pace, accelerate accountability," said Patterson.

    At ASU, Patterson put in place individual business plans for each team, something that had never been done at the school. "A long-term business plan, a strategy, helps you get to where you want to get to," said Patterson.  
    As a recommendation for young people looking to get into college sports, Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti suggested finding internships outside the realm. "Experience in the private sector is crucial," said Pernetti, who helped build the CBS College Sports Network almost a decade ago. "We're talking about businesses that can be over $150 million. It's a massive business."

    Bowling Green State athletic director Greg Christopher clarified that being an athletic director is not just about running a business. "These jobs are large-scale human resources jobs," said Christopher.  "You have to be able to manage relationships and know how to handle a range of issues."

    Tags: Miami Dolphins, Ping, Houston Rockets, Houston Texans, Portland Trail Blazers
  • Two minutes with NCAA president Mark Emmert

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    After his one-on-one interview this morning, we spent two minutes with NCAA president Mark Emmert and asked him about four topics:

    1) Priorities for next month's NCAA convention
    2) The status of the student-athlete stipend
    3) Rising coaches' salaries
    4) Prospects for expanding the NCAA men's basketball tournament

    Tags: NCAA, Basketball
  • Accountability, Control and Oversight

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    During the opening session, NCAA President Mark Emmert sat down for a wide-ranging interview on the current state of affairs of his admittedly ‘weird’ decision-making organization. With realignment continuing to be a hot topic, Emmert was concerned with the big picture. “The unintended collateral damage is an erosion of the trust that used to exist between presidents of institutions and fellow ADs,” he said. “When you run a conference, you have to have some level of trust. If you make a commitment to (stay), and you suspect that the person you just made a commitment to is now in the hallway trying to get out of a conference, that’s a tough relationship. This has cost people’s friendships and congenialities and I’m really concerned about that.”

    From the Office of the President

    Mark Emmert, NCAA
    Harvey Perlman, Nebraska
    Nathan Hatch, Wake Forest

    Emmert was later joined on a panel by Univ. of Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Wake Forest Univ. President Nathan Hatch, who voiced their opinions on recent additions to their respective conferences. “We brought in two great academic institutions and we spread the footprint of the Big Ten,” said Perlman. “Obviously, we entered markets that are great for media revenue.” Perlman also was skeptical that Maryland’s $50 million exit fee is enforceable.
    Hatch said he was sorry to see Maryland exit the ACC for financial reasons, but is excited about the additions of Notre Dame and Louisville. “It’s too bad to disrupt these deep, historic ties” he said, “but I understand fully why (Maryland) did it.” Emmert concluded that he can’t answer whether realignment is good overall for college sports.
    BCS Playoffs

    Perlman, who also serves on the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, provided some interesting insight into the upcoming BCS playoff system. While a revenue-sharing model has been agreed on, no site has been decided on yet, and he knows that there will still be opponents to the system. “Controversy is not going to go away,” he said. “There’s enormous pressure to extend to 8 and 16 schools. I don’t think it’s particularly stable over the next 12 years.”


    Emmert talked making dramatic revisions to the NCAA Rulebook and his hopes of having them in place a year from now. Hatch is looking for a “focus to move to common sense principles. The rule book is so big and complicated that it needs a refresh.” Perlman added that no matter what, “You can’t level the playing field in recruiting.”

    Should Big 5 conferences make a break from the NCAA?

    “If BCS schools or any other schools decide they’d be better served by having their own association, then they can and should go do that,” Emmer said. “That means that the NCAA has failed in some fashion, and as a university president, I wouldn’t want to be a part of an organization that’s failing.” But Emmert noted some of the challenges that would come with creating a new organization. “You’d have to start your own enforcement arm, replicate all the championships and recreate all the arms of the NCAA,” he said, “but just do it in a way that serves your own purposes better.” Hatch stated he’s opposed to setting up a whole new system.

    Quick Hits from Emmert:

    On progress at the NCAA: “Is progress happening as fast as I think is prudent? Yeah, I do. These things do require a good, thoughtful conversation. We are a very weird organization. We have 1,100 members. We have twice as many votes as Congress.”

    On the legacy of Penn State: “A better support structure around university presidents and ADs. Making sure there is no existential threat to a president to say no to a coach.”

    On transparency of the NCAA: “The whole issue of transparency in big organizations generally is a social phenomenon now because of changes that are happening in society. Are we as transparent as some people would like? No. We’re not as transparent as I would like, but we’re much more so than we used to be and we’re working hard on that.”

    On the failure of the attendance stipend: “I knew it was highly controversial, I didn’t anticipate the reaction it provoked. We didn’t do good diligence on this proposal.”

    Tags: NCAA, Opinion, Media
  • ADs Speak Out on Finances, Fairness and Realignment

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    NC State's Debbie Yow: "If the money were the same, nobody would be switching [conferences]."
    Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown

    We had a stellar panel of ADs this morning to talk about the financial and competitive landscape for college sports.

    Here are some quick hits from the session:

    Missouri AD Mike Alden on the school moving to the SEC: "When you transfer to a new neighborhood, you have to learn who your neighbors are. We know over the course of the next several decades it will be a tremendous move. We weren't relevant in Atlanta, Orlando, Tampa-St. Pete. Our footprint went from 45 million households in the Big 12 to 89 million overnight. To expose Missouri to a broader audience has been a driving factor in all of this."

    Michigan State AD Mark Hollis on Big 10 realignment: "Nebraska involved a dating process before we got married. With Rutgers and Maryland we got married and now we're trying to figure out how to live under the same roof."

    Athletic Directors Speak Out

    Mike Alden, Missouri
    Mark Hollis, Michigan State
    Warde Manuel, Connecticut
    Debbie Yow, North Carolina State

    NC State's Debbie Yow on realignment: "If the money were the same, nobody would be switching [conferences]. It's all about the money."

    Yow, on the feeling of isolation that Maryland, her old school, felt being on the outskirts of the ACC: "One time Coach [Gary] Williams said, 'Up here in Alaska,' as a way to refer to the ACC. When [I] was at Maryland we used to call the ACC the All Carolina Conference. You always feel that way when your headquarters are in another state."
    UConn AD Warde Manuel on traditions lost by realignment: "There's a lot of concern among the fan base that the things that 'I grew up knowing and loving are changing in front of me and it's going to have a negative impact on me.'"

    Yow, on traditions: "There will be some pain as anybody changes conferences ... there's no appreciation for the history of that particular school. Maryland played Duke in men's basketball. Tens of thousands of alums are familiar with that tremendous rivalry, and it died.”

    Tags: Finance, HBO, Audi
  • Winning the Mental Game

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    Rick Aberman led a discussion on how to bring out the best in your team.
    Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown

    Emotional leadership in college sports was the focus of a featured presentationled by Rick Aberman, the sports psychologist for the University of Minnesota's football, baseball and tennis teams and the director of peak performance for the Minnesota Twins. "You have to invest in your people," Aberman said. "Without the people, you don't have a prayer. In my 25 years in this business, we're doing a better job than ever in reaching out to our student-athletes. But our coaches and administrators? Not so well."

    To help with the pressures of the job in college sports, Aberman said he teaches mental toughness, which he defined as, "Who we are, what we want to be, and where we're headed."

    Bringing out the Best in Your Team

    Rick Aberman, Minnesota Twins, University of Minnesota
    John Anderson, University of Minnesota
    Jon LeCrone, Horizon League

    John Anderson, the head baseball coach at the University of Minnesota since 1981, said he thought of quitting at one point early in his career. That's when he asked Aberman and to work on his team's mental and emotional approach. But Aberman had a different idea.

    "You are the one expected to lead," Aberman told Anderson. "Let's start with you."

    Among his many changes, Anderson said his teams at Minnesota no longer have captains. "We expect everyone to be responsible for the leadership of our team," he said. Anderson said his work with Aberman "salvaged my career and made me a better coach."
    Horizon League Commissioner Jon LeCrone hired Aberman to be a consultant for his athletic directors. When Butler left the Horizon for the ACC, LeCrone was bombarded with questions about how the conference could survive without its best basketball team. "The fundamental questions were, Who are we and want do we want to be"? LeCrone said.  "This is where the work with Rick helped. We're going to define ourselves. The media is not going to define us. This is our approach as we consider expanded membership."

    LeCrone encouraged all the administrators at the conference to consider work with a psychologist, and to "live, learn and grow."

    Tags: Football, Baseball, Minnesota Twins
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