College Athletics

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ESPN Softball Coverage Surges Behind Expanded TV and Digital Strategy

  • ESPN saw a 40% increase in regular-season college softball viewership last year and several similar spikes during the Women’s College World Series.
  • The network is airing a record 200+ games this season alongside 1,400 additional games on digital networks.

ESPN made significant expansions in its coverage of college softball in 2020 after an explosion of interest following the 2019 season. The success of the sport across both linear and digital networks prompted the sports giant to offer a record 200+ games, a reflection of a broader push within the industry to cater to niche audiences in an era of content overload. 2019 marked a massive year for the sport on ESPN. The network boasted its most-watched Women’s College World […]

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Top Women’s Basketball Programs Chasing Wins on Social and On Court

  • With the help of digital efforts, Oregon jumped from 1,000 season tickets in 2015 to more than 7,000 this season.
  • Behind-the-scenes content from smaller programs garnering more impactful engagement than football.

As the Oregon women’s basketball team’s senior class rolls on to success and senior forward Sabrina Ionescu finishes up a historic career, the school’s marketing department is firing on all cylinders.  Ionescu and Co. have the Ducks ranked No. 3 in the nation as she became the first Division I collegiate player, male or female, to score 2,000 points, collect 1,000 rebounds and record 1,000 assists. Through their four years, the Oregon athletics department has placed an added focus on […]

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Houston Cougars Beginning Plans For Fan and Brand Engagement

  • Houston has invested $307 million in athletics in the last seven years.
  • The Cougars are partnering with Varsity Partners to continue to develop fan engagement strategies.

(Varsity Partners are a proud partner of Front Office Sports) The University of Houston Cougars have been an integral part of the city’s sports culture going back to the days of Coach Bill Yeoman’s veer-option dominance, Phi Slama Jama’s culture changing style and Andre Ware’s prominence on the field.  For the better part of the last decade, the Cougars have strived to be one of the American Conference’s best examples of a “P6” school in many aspects. Over the past […]

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College Football Hall Of Fame Finds New Life In Atlanta

  • The Hall saw consecutive days of record-setting attendance around the 2019 Peach Bowl.
  • Super Bowl LII in nearby Mercedes-Benz Stadium brought nine major events and an influx of NFL fans to the Hall.

Attendance was lackluster, awareness waning and revenue dwindling for the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind. But a move to a major market and several key strategy shifts sparked a much-needed resurgence for the Hall as both a shrine to the sport’s storied history and an in-demand event venue. Sitting steps away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the iconic Centennial Olympic Park in the heart of downtown Atlanta, the building and the experiences the new Chick-Fil-A College Football […]

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NHL Bankrolls College Hockey Expansion As Youth Game Explodes

  • NHL’s expansion into areas including Tampa, Nashville and Las Vegas has resulted in a boom of youth players with few college teams to play for.
  • NCAA alumni in the NHL have grown 55% over the last 15 years with 33% of the league now coming from the college hockey ranks.

In the last quarter of a century, the total number of hockey players in the U.S. has grown 232%, but only a handful of college hockey programs have either been created or boosted to DI status in the same span. The result is a bottleneck at the top of the college game, which has more talent than ever seeking out a relatively few number of roster spots.   Enter: College Hockey Inc. Created and funded by USA Hockey with additional financial […]

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College Football’s Crowded All-Star Landscape Endures

  • The return of the Hula Bowl in 2019 added another game for college football seniors.
  • The Senior Bowl reigns supreme with nearly 1,000 pro personnel in attendance, compared to 200 at the NFLPA’s Collegiate Bowl and 50 scouts for the Hula Bowl.

Aloha Stadium saw the return of the Hula Bowl this winter after a 12-year hiatus. But as just 4,000 spectators – albeit twice the Hula Bowl’s last crowd before it was temporarily discontinued in 2008 – sparsely speckled the state’s largest stadium at the end of the college football all-star game cycle, the question became whether or not there is a market for another college football all-star game. The Hula Bowl’s return means there are now four major all-star games […]

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University of Houston Already Exceeding Expectations With XFL Partnership

  • The university expects to top $1.4 million in special events revenue this year, much of which they attribute to the arrival of the XFL’s Roughnecks.
  • New field turf, WiFi enhancements among benefits that extend beyond the field.

The XFL’s Roughnecks have made their home in the heart of southeast Texas at the University of Houston’s TDECU Stadium. The partnership promised financial upside for both parties, but the benefits the university has seen already have been better than the Cougars imagined.  TDECU Stadium got its first glimpse of Houston’s new hometown team in January when the entirety of the XFL came to the city for training camp, which was expected to spur close to $7 million in revenue […]

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Q&A: Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman

  • The Big East has started initiatives in esports, mental health and more under Ackerman’s leadership.
  • Ackerman, co-chair of the NCAA’s working group on NIL, said the ultimate decision “will change the college landscape, no matter what happens, forever.”

Big East commissioner Val Ackerman is a jack of all trades. She’s been a college student athlete and then a professional basketball player. She was an NBA lawyer turned executive. She was the late David Stern’s right hand woman and then the founding President of the WNBA. She has served as the President of USA Basketball and worked with FIBA, the U.S. Soccer Federation and NYU. She’s been on countless boards and committees, from the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics […]

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Shot Callers: Robin Harris, Executive Director, The Ivy League

(The Ivy League is a proud partner of Front Office Sports) The Ivy League’s rich history in both athletics and academics is well known, even to casual observers of college sports. In recent years, however, the league has been at the forefront of several initiatives aimed at improving not just the lives of their own student-athletes, but the sports world as a whole. In the latest episode of Shot Callers, FOS COO Russ Wilde chats with Executive Director of the […]

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Senators Critical Of NCAA’s Inaction At Student Athlete Compensation Hearing

  • First-ever Senate hearing on NCAA athlete pay draws sharp dissent from lawmakers.
  • “We’ll see what they're able to present us in April and how firm those policies are,” chairman says.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The conversation surrounding name, image and likeness in college athletics continued on Capitol Hill on Tuesday as chairman Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and his subcommittee heard from NCAA president Mark Emmert and other college administrators during a Senate hearing on the state of student athlete compensation. After California passed a law in September allowing athletes to profit from the use of their name, image and likeness, more than 25 states have either passed or begun working on […]

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