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Volume 27 No. 5
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SBJ College: Colorado Bets Big On New Category

Remembering Tom Jernstedt over the weekend.

Here is what's cookin' on campus.



  • Colorado is the first school outside the state of Nevada to open up the gambling category for corporate sponsorships, striking a deal that makes PointsBet a partner of the athletic department. The Pac-12 school joins UNLV and Nevada, which have deals with William Hill U.S., as schools that have sponsorships in that category. The deal was brokered by Learfield IMG College, the Buffs’ multimedia rights holder.

  • The agreement reminds me of when schools opened up the beer category a decade ago. They all knew there was a big financial upside, but they had to consider underage drinking and binge drinking trends on college campuses. They got around it by stipulating that beer marketing had to come with responsible messaging and now practically every major school has an official beer. The same will be true for schools like Colorado as they open up the gambling category to sports betting operators.

  • Terms of the five-year partnership were not revealed, but partner deals in other categories can go for the mid-six figures and sometimes higher. The state of Colorado has already been active in this space. The Broncos were the first NFL team to cut a sports betting sponsorship with its FanDuel deal in June.

  • I checked in with SBJ’s Bill King, our sports betting guru, on why PointsBet made its first college deal in Colorado. PointsBet, an Australia-based operator, is going to be aggressive, he said. It doesn’t have the name recognition of FanDuel or DraftKings, so it is looking for unique ways to reach the sports gambler. Responsible messaging will certainly be part of its marketing mix, but it also has social and digital rights, although they do not include Colorado assets for sweepstakes.



  • Tom Jernstedt went by many monikers. He was known as the "Father of the Final Four," "The Most Influential Man in College Basketball," "The Billion-Dollar Man" (for negotiating the NCAA’s first billion-dollar media contract) and "The Architect." It was his vision, dating back to 1972 when he went to work at the NCAA, that guided March Madness into the behemoth it is today.

  • Jernstedt, 75, died over the weekend, prompting an outpouring of appreciation and memories on social media from many of the people who worked with him during his 38 years at the NCAA.
    • CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock wrote eloquently about Jernstedt as “the architect and conscience” of the NCAA Tournament.

    • Former NCAA exec Greg Shaheen called him “the soul and compass" of the modern tournament.

    • Media exec Len DeLuca wrote that millions of college basketball fans knew his face because of Jernstedt’s camera-friendly courtside seat, but they never knew the full impression he had behind the scenes.

  • Former Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany put it well. Jernstedt “has been the one constant” in the tournament’s growth to a multi-billion dollar property. There are just a small handful of non-coaches who have had such a lasting impact -- Jim Host, the late Dave Gavitt and the late C.M. Newton are the ones who come to mind. As DeLuca said, they’d all defer credit to their good friend, Tom Jernstedt.

  • Jernstedt was an SBJ Champion in 2015 and I visited him at his Indianapolis home to profile him. What I’ll always remember was the contrast. Tom’s wife, Kris, immaculately decorated the main level. But when we descended into the basement, also known as Tom’s man cave, his connection to basketball came to life. There were 40 commemorative basketballs sitting throughout the basement, including one signed by everybody who attended their wedding. It couldn’t have been more fitting.


Jernstedt, who was at the NCAA for 38 years, was a driving force behind March Madness
Jernstedt, who was at the NCAA for 38 years, was a driving force behind March Madness
Jernstedt, who was at the NCAA for 38 years, was a driving force behind March Madness



  • Paciolan’s ticketing technology and marketing business has added 10 new school clients:

    • College of Charleston
    • Duquesne
    • Eastern Michigan
    • San Francisco
    • SMU
    • South Alabama
    • South Carolina State
    • South Dakota
    • UCLA
    • UNC Wilmington

  • The driving force behind many of these deals, the company said, is mobile ticketing. That includes the ability to purchase mobile tickets, receive them via text and enter the venue with it. Paciolan went into the summer with 140 college clients. Close to 70 converted over to mobile ticketing by last month -- many of them driven by their fans’ desire to enter a venue without swapping tickets or exchanging mobile devices for a contactless experience. The 10 new schools bring Paciolan’s college client list to 150.




  • A month ago, it appeared that the 30-year-old headwear brand, Top of the World, was headed for its demise. Its parent company, Vetta Brands, had fired 200 employees and begun the process of liquidating assets. Operations in the 220,000-square-foot HQ in Norman, Okla., had come to a halt. COVID’s impact on diminishing sales had taken its toll on the company.

  • Fanatics entered the picture about three weeks ago to see what could be salvaged from an established brand. Plenty, it turns out. Fanatics has added the headwear licenses of more than 600 colleges as part of its deal to acquire assets from Vetta Brands. That means Fanatics is taking over Top of the World, the No. 1 licensed college headwear brand worldwide, but it is not buying the company. Vetta Brands remains a separate entity.

  • Top of the World’s HQ remains intact, giving Fanatics a headwear manufacturing expertise to go with its other lines. The two sides will combine apparel and merchandise employees to create a bigger and more powerful division. As part of the deal, Fanatics paid off all of the unpaid debt to factories overseas. Top of the World President Scott Shuler will continue to lead the business and will be joining Fanatics Brands as Senior VP, reporting to President Joe Bozich.


Fanatics will get the licenses to around 600 schools with its Top of The World headwear deal
Fanatics will get the licenses to around 600 schools with its Top of The World headwear deal
Fanatics will get the licenses to around 600 schools with its Top of The World headwear deal



  • "College GameDay" is back on the road this coming Saturday and the pregame show will visit the campus of Wake Forest for the first time ahead of the Demon Deacons' matchup with Clemson. The Winston-Salem Journal notes that "instead of broadcasting in front of a raucous crowd outside of Truist Field or on Hearn Plaza, ESPN will create a socially distanced stage on the 50-yard line of Truist Field with cutouts of fans in the background and viewing parties arranged close to the stadium."

  • Stanford decided to cut 11 sports back in July, but alumni of those teams are not sitting idle. The S.F. Chronicle notes shortly after the announcement, backers began organizing, "both separately by sport and collectively" under the acronym SART (Stanford Athletic Response Team). "Stanford has always seen itself as a leader,” said Silver Medal-winning U.S. fencer and Stanford alum Alexander Massialas. “To drop sports to be more in line with its peers runs contrary to the values Stanford holds." Former rower Dave Evans added: “The donor base is pissed." Muir has met via video conference with the members of SART, but there are no school efforts to raise money to save the sports.

  • Big 12 ADs met today, and commissioner Bob Bowlsby told The Oklahoman it was "likely" that the topic of having players on the field for the national anthem would come up. With marching bands usually on the field in college football, teams traditionally have stayed in the locker room when the anthem is played. "It’s intended there’s some latitude on a local basis, and we have the expectation there will be representations of feelings of student-athletes in a variety of ways,” Bowlsby said. 

  • "Eerie and surreal don’t begin to describe the scene on Labor Day night." That was how the Deseret News' Jay Drew described the scene for BYU-Navy yesterday. To those in attendance (mostly in the press box), "even the television timeouts were awkward, with no silly promotions or on-field contests such as field goal attempts or sack races to fill the time."

  • College football game delays due to COVID are already starting to mount. The season opener for Tulsa and Oklahoma State at Boone Pickens Stadium, slated for this coming weekend, was pushed back a week after coronavirus issues with the Tulsa squad. Meanwhile, the Oct. 3 Rice-Marshall game now looks to be off after Rice announced a decision to delay the start of football practice due to COVID-19 concerns. Conference USA officials confirmed to the Huntington Herald-Dispatch that they are "looking to remedy the matter, but the league’s ability to do so is hindered because the unknown of whether Rice will even play this season."




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