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#NACDA17 from a NACDA Intern’s Perspective




After many 15 hour days, it is fun to reflect on the opportunity.

Pictured with my former coworker from my Navy internship, Terence McGowan, who was attending the NAADD Convention.

As a NACDA intern for the 2016–17 year, myself and the three other interns (Hannah Mordica, Grace Falkenbach and Nathan Anderson) have been gearing up for the 2017 NACDA & Affiliates Convention at the World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida since our first day at the national office.

Back in September, it seemed that the Convention was never going to arrive. Flash forward about 10 months and here I am having arrived back in “The Land” after the 52nd NACDA & Affiliates Convention. For those unfamiliar, NACDA is the professional trade and development organization for college athletics administrators. Under the NACDA umbrella are 17 affiliate associations serving all corners of college athletics. The associations are as follows:

CABMA — College Athletic Business Management Association

CEFMA — Collegiate Events and Facilities Management Association

I-AAA ADA — Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association

D2 ADA — Division II Athletics Directors Association

D2 CCA — Division II Conference Commissioners Association

FCS ADA — Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association

ICLA — International Collegiate Licensing Association

MOAA — Minority Opportunities Athletic Association

N4A — The National Association of Academic and Student-Athlete Development Professionals

NAAC — The National Association for Athletics Compliance

NAADD — The National Association of Athletic Development Directors

NAATSO — National Association of Athletic Ticket Sales and Operations

NACMA — National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators

NADIIIAA — National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators

NAIA — National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Administrators

NATYCAA — National Alliance of Two Year College Athletic Administrators

NACDA — National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics

In addition to the associations, NACDA helps manage the distribution of eight awards:

The CDW-G NACDA Best Game Day Technology Experience Award

James J. Corbett Award

Learfield Directors’ Cup

NACDA Community Service Award presented by The Fiesta Bowl

NACDA Hall of Fame

NACDA/USOC Olympic Achievement Award

Under Armour AD of the Year

USG NACDA Sustainability Award

As part of the internship program, each intern is assigned a number of associations based on career interests and previous experience. As a communications intern this year, I worked with both the I-AAA ADA and FCS ADA as well as assisted with the Learfield Directors’ Cup and Under Armour AD of the Year awards.

Utilizing my communications background, I also distribute the NACDA Daily Review each day and have written a number of pieces for Athletics Administration, NACDA’s quarterly magazine publication.

Now that I have provided some background on NACDA and my experience there, let’s dive into the week that was at Convention. I had only heard about the number of people who attend Convention from those who had previously been and the NACDA staff.

I do not think I truly wrapped my head around it until registration opened in February and the phones in the office were ringing off the hook.

Usually, the phone duties alternate from intern to intern each week, but the week that registration opened it was all hands on deck. The block of rooms at the Marriott World Center sold out in seven minutes. Seven. Minutes. Once I heard that, I finally was able to grasp how big this event would be.

A staff of 14 full-time employees and the four interns (as well as some volunteers with ties to NACDA) effectively ran the Convention which saw around 6,500 attendees this year in Orlando. When we arrived at the World Center Marriott on Thursday, June 8, we dropped our bags in our hotel rooms and got right to work.

Luckily, there were only a few Conventions beginning at the time so we had plenty of time to prepare for the four biggest Conventions which kicked off on Monday (NACDA, NAADD, NACMA and ICLA). My duties varied each day, but on weekdays I would get as much information prepared for the Daily Review to be sent out as I could in stints while in the office. I would also float around and help the association managers as needed.

As more and more attendees showed up, it was truly special to see the effect that NACDA has had on each person and hearing their high praise for the organization.

Some of the most powerful names in college athletics were in attendance networking, learning, and taking advantage of the opportunities NACDA provides.

Once everything was set up, and the main Convention days rolled around, it was full steam ahead.

The NACDA staff held meetings at 6:30 am each morning to set out a game plan for the day, and once adjourned, we got to work to ensure that our members and attendees had a great experience.

Whether I was posting press releases from the various associations, helping out at the registration desk, setting up NACMA’s Collateral Corner (an exhibit of sorts where colleges send in materials for attendees to grab), taking minutes for my association’s membership meetings or transporting the various awards to be given out, there were always tons of people networking, going to sessions or just congregating in the halls.

CoSIDA’s Convention was going on simultaneously, so there were even more people shuffling around the halls of the convention center trying to learn and build their networks.

On Monday and Tuesday the exhibit hall was open, which showcased various companies and what they could provide for an athletics department, such as Under Armour (a NACDA sponsor that outfitted the staff for the week), various lighting companies, turf companies, etc. Goodie bags aplenty were handed out as attendees could pick up some free swag to take back to their respective campuses.

Monday was also my big day for Association meetings. I sat in on and helped facilitate the DI-AAA membership meeting, the DI-AAA and FCS ADA joint governance meeting, and the FCS ADA and Football Coaches meeting.

After a week in Orlando of working 15 hour days, reconnecting with former classmates and colleagues, and seeing the who’s who in college athletics, it is hard to believe that the culmination of my internship year is rapidly approaching.

My last day in the office is June 23, and then it is on to the next step of my career as I continue to build my personal brand and develop as a professional.

As we wind down from our week, and look ahead to the last couple weeks of the internship before we all begin the next step in our journeys, it is almost as hard to believe that the Convention has come and gone as it is that it has been nearly 10 months since our initial conversation regarding the event.

I have been writing for FOS for almost a year, and have been very fortunate to interact with some of the #FOSsquad on Twitter and other forms of social media throughout my time, but I finally met my first colleague in person down at Convention. Will Baggett and I connected during the early days of the Convention (of course we did not get a picture), but I hope to connect with more in the near future!

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College Athletics

California Opens Door for Student-Athletes

Front Office Sports



Nov 24, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General overall view as Southern California Trojans quarterback JT Daniels (16) throws a pass against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else.

Student-athletes in California could be signing endorsement deals in the near future.

Senate Bill 206 by state Sen. Nancy Skinner would allow student-athletes in California to sign with agents and profit from endorsement. The bill, which cleared the state Senate yesterday, heads to the Assembly for consideration in the coming months, according to Melody Gutierrez of the LA Times.

What does the bill say? 

– The bill would treat student-athletes like Olympians and give them an opportunity to “earn income from their talent” while retaining their amateur status.

– The bill would allow student-athletes at public and private universities and colleges to earn money from the use of their name, image or likeness in endorsement deals starting in 2023.

– The bill would not allow the schools to directly pay athletes.

– The bill would bar schools from offering sponsorship deals to high school students as a recruitment tool.

Not everyone is for it…

While there is no precedent for what would happen if the bill were to become law in terms of how the NCAA would treat student-athletes at California schools, but many of the bigger schools don’t even want to test it. 

According to Guitierrez, Cal, USC and Stanford all oppose the bill. 

The next few months are critical…

Not only for student-athletes in California but for student-athletes across the country thanks to the NCAA forming a working group to examine issues highlighted in recently proposed federal and state legislation related to student-athlete name, image and likeness. 

The working group will be moving quickly, with an update provided in August and a final report due to the Board of Governors in October
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College Athletics

Could College Athletes be Compensated for Likeness?

Front Office Sports



Dec 1, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; iOklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws in the first quarter against the Texas Longhornsn the Big 12 championship game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else.

NCAA Football might be coming back to gaming consoles sooner rather than later.

Thanks to an announcement from the NCAA, the governing body is looking into ways it can modify its rules to allow college athletes to be compensated for their names, images and likenesses.

What do you need to know? 

1. Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith will head up the working group exploring the options.

2. Including Ackerman and Smith, the working group will have 19 members.

3. The group will not consider any concepts that could be construed as payment for participation in college sports. 

4. The group will present a final report to the Board of Governors in October, with an update provided in August.

Why now?

While a solid reason for why the timing of this decision was not given, it’s no secret that the NCAA has been under fire for quite some time in regards to this very topic.

In fact, although the decision in the Alston Case didn’t end in free-market compensation sought by the plaintiffs, Judge Claudia Wilken noted that many of the “benefits” already being received by college athletes are equal “pay for play,” according to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports.

What are they saying?

“We believe the time is right for these discussions and look forward to a thorough assessment of the many complexities involved in this area.” – Val Ackerman, Big East Commissioner

“While the formation of this group is an important step to confirming what we believe as an association, the group’s work will not result in paying students as employees.” – Gene Smith, Ohio State Athletic Director

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College Athletics

Rutgers Draws From Fyre Festival to Celebrate Football Milestone

Rutgers drew inspiration from an unusual source to market the upcoming 150-year-anniversary of the first-ever college football game.

Mike Piellucci




Photo Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

At first blush, it’s the oddest of pairings – a 150-year-old brand and an event that failed spectacularly enough to become a pop culture sensation. Yet as Robert Roselli, Assistant Athletic Director of Marketing at Rutgers, kicked around ideas to celebrate an important football milestone on campus, he couldn’t get the Fyre Festival out of his head.

On November 6th, 1869, Rutgers hosted the first-ever intercollegiate football game, where it defeated the College of New Jersey – today known as Princeton – six points to four. It makes Rutgers the “birthplace of college football,” a designation it wields proudly. With the 150th anniversary of the game drawing near, though, Roselli came to realize that the university had a problem on its hands: A sizeable portion of the student body has no idea exactly how deep the school’s football roots run.

So Roselli decided to launch a brand awareness campaign to remedy that. To do so, he ripped a page out of the Fyre Festival’s playbook. In execution, the so-called “luxury music festival” was an unmitigated disaster. The marketing strategy behind it, however, was cutting edge. The crown jewel was an Instagram influencer campaign in which 400 models posted an image of a bright orange tile with the hashtag #fyrefestival. The idea was to promote the event in a heavily saturated way that nevertheless avoided coming off as canned. Simple visuals trumped complicated text, and hashtags were kept to a minimum.

READ MORE: How The 2019 Masters Revived ‘The Tiger Effect’

“I think I always had it in the back of my head ‘Wow, that was a pretty bold strategy, it generated a lot of buzz. How can we potentially mimic something?” Roselli says.

In early March, he tasked Sophia Tian, Rutgers’ executive marketing intern with finding out. The goal was to increase awareness of the phrase “birthplace of college football” ahead of Rutgers’ spring football game on April 13th. From there, she says, “this became my baby for the next month-and-a-half.”

“Obviously we don’t have Instagram models [or a] tropical lifestyle here at New Brunswick,” she says of her challenge. “How can we make students fear missing out and how can we catch their attention at first?”

The showcase item was a grey giveaway t-shirt to be given away at spring game, which, naturally, read “The Birthplace of College Football” in alternating red and white text. Later, a red tile was added to mirror Fyre Festival’s orange look. She then reached out to 20 friends to serve as her own Instagram influencers and eventually expanded the group to better reflect the student body’s diversity. Student-athletes were approached, too, in the name of adding further star power.

Tian rolled out the campaign in three waves on the 11th, two days before the game. The first came at 7:00 p.m., with the influencers posting pictures of themselves in the shirt – cut or styled any way they chose so long as the words were visible. The second, also at 7:00, was a wave of Instagram stories with the red tile and – “in obnoxiously small font,” Tian notes – the words, “The Birthplace of College Football.”

But the coup de grace was the third wave, in which Tian personally distributed the shirts to bartenders and doormen at some of Rutgers’ most popular student bars in time for the 10:00 p.m. Thursday night rush.

“Right after you see it all over your social media, you get ready to go out and go out and then you see the shirt again,” Tian says. “It’s basically haunting you.”

All told, Roselli and Tian consider the initiative a resounding success. According to Roselli, while student attendance at the spring game mostly mirrored that of the year before, growing that number was always considered an “’icing on the cake’-kind of thing.” Instead, they focused on buzz and measurable trends. To that end, Roselli proudly points to the Google search metrics during the hours of the campaign, which saw an explosion in the number of “The Birthplace of College Football” queries.

The larger future of the project has yet to be determined. For Roselli, it’s not only a successful test of his initial hypothesis, but something that opened his eyes to the possibilities that come from a whole new style of marketing.

READ MORE: 3X3U National Championship Puts a College Spin on Three-on-Three

“I’m confident that had we done this same exact campaign that only focused on our coaches and our different team accounts — what I would call official spokespeople of Rutgers Athletics — it simply would not have created the same buzz, the same coolness factor,” he says.

In the more immediate term, though, it’s a launchpad for their ongoing campaign. The official 150-year anniversary of the first college football game is still more than six months away, and neither Roselli nor Tian wants to let the momentum gained from the influencer marketing campaign slip through their fingers.

“I think raising the awareness now sets their student body up for what’s to come next year,” Tian says. “We are celebrating the 150th anniversary and we also want to capitalize on that message this whole year, this upcoming season. We want to make sure everyone knows that this is where it all started.”

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