Will College Athletics Lead Or Follo. Depends On The Leader

A few weeks ago we touched upon the great opportunity that college athletic departments of all sizes have in these troubled financial times to learn, become more business-like and show true value as community leaders to the students and the institutions they represent. Still the troubles continue ahead, as instead of investing and learning the business of sports, more colleges are looking to cut around the edges and find ways to slow the process of media relations and athletic branding down, rather than taking steps to grow through investment, a practice which certainly is taught in the classrooms of any basic history or economics class. The blog “Eye On Sports Media” recently had a great piece on the NCAA ruling to basically ban media guides as both a cost savings and a way to eliminate the evils of recruiting violations, thus giving casual media covering colleges the risk of getting information only through a higher tech application, like a CD-rom. Now is it smart to cut back on wasteful printin. Absolutely, and printing should be a Title IX must for schools, it should be a necessity for sports that get adequate media coverage. The frills are also not needed in making media guides vanity projects either…they should be what they were created for…to service the media. But the reckless elimination of such guides will probably hurt coverage in the long run at the risk of saving a few short term bucks. Stupid. Now let's take a look at the positive side, which is contained in the announcement of new University of Houston athletic director Mack Rhodes. Rhodes, going to the Cougars from the University of Akron, made a strong positive impression in his introductory presser, setting a tone not as a budget slasher but as a revenue generator, looking at the U of H as a part of the community that needs to embrace and be more business-like in the way it can grow and identify with the community around it. It not just sends the right message to the staff and partners in Houston, but it conveys a message as a leader for all of college athletics no matter what the size. You have a brand, invest and treat it like the commodity it is, go find the projects that can bring in a quality experience for new partners who can appreciate college athletes and show value, and your brand will grow. The smartest brands find cost-efficient ways to invest in the leanest of times, and colleges should be no different.

Some other good reads…also in the college space, the Arizona Star has a look at how Pac 10 schools can find ways to cut spending…some good, some short sighted…USA Today had a good piece on the rebirth of baseball board games like APBA and Strat-O-Matic…Media Post had a good piece on the recruitment of candidates to the popular Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man” academy, surely an athletic tie is coming here…and the San Francisco Chronicle had a good “give back” piece on former Oakland A's pitcher Mike Norris.