An examination of outsourced marketing in Division I intercollegiate athletics
Zullo, Robert Humphreys
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The purpose of this study was to examine the outsourced sports marketing relationship between select Division I National Collegiate Athletic Association athletic departments and their outsourced marketing partner as examined from the perspective of the latter. Twenty-eight of the 61 companies selected to participate in this study responded to the questionnaire. Data was collected as descriptive statistics and frequencies were analyzed along with qualitative responses. Outsourced companies focus on sales efforts at a highly successful rate in an effort to generate revenue. The main inventories sold include commercials during radio broadcasts of games and signage at athletic facilities. These are typically packaged with the sports of football and/or men’s basketball while other sports are ignored due to a low financial return on investment. It is suggested that future sponsorships package Olympic Sports and women’s athletics with the revenue sports to best meet the mission and philosophy of institutions of higher education. With regards to Title IX, outsourced marketing companies felt that athletic departments should assume the greater responsibility in adhering to federal legislation. The companies provide the revenue, but the departments decide how it should best be spent. Results also indicate that outsourced companies have limited numbers of females and minorities in sales positions. Recommendations have been made to make advancements. For better long-term growth, outsourced marketing companies are advised to expand inventory options for corporate partners. Research also found that many sponsorship categories remained unfulfilled in intercollegiate athletics. However, sponsorships have been filled in the frequently restricted categories of alcohol and gambling. It is advised that they should continue with initial approval from the institutions of higher education and continuous evaluations. Companies would also be advised to work with sport management programs at the schools to better demonstrate a return of investment to their sponsors. Outsourced companies seek new business opportunities for the future with athletic departments, though the most likely would involve working on athletic facility naming rights. Such future ventures and continuous sales efforts are likely to focus on select Division I schools and conferences most capable of demonstrating a larger financial return on investment.