Connect with us

College Athletics

The Importance of Useable Data for Colorado State Athletics

Colorado State Athletics is doubling down on data to help drive revenue and spot trends in ways it hasn’t been able to before.

Adam White

Published

on

Colorado State - Football - Data

Photo courtesy of Colorado State Athletics

(*Old Hat is a proud Partner of Front Office Sports)

Is it data or is it intelligence?

If you were to ask Chris Ferris, senior associate athletic director for sales, marketing, and communications at Colorado State, he would most likely tell you that it’s actually “strategic intelligence.”

As data and its impact has permeated sports of all levels, there has never been a better time to be able to make decisions based on what the numbers suggest. But, with all of the numbers floating around, and all of the potential data points to be collected, what should be focused on first?

While Ferris may not point to a specific data point that everyone should look for, seeing as all athletic departments have different goals, he did mention that the most important fact beyond acquiring data is being able to use it to implement new initiatives.

Hence, the “strategic intelligence” idea.

“At the end of the day, we have a finite amount of resources, people, and time. Finding out how to direct and utilize resources, people, and time is critical. Strategic intelligence that helps us do that is very powerful.”

READ MORE: The Boom of Implementing Esports Classes in College Has Begun

It’s great to have data, but it’s even better to have data and a context that makes what the spreadsheets are telling you useable.

“To me, it’s about data and information that you can use to plot out specific initiatives that you can mobilize resources against,” mentioned Ferris. “There’s a lot of data out there that we all like to look at and think is interesting, but the question would be, ‘How are you going to use that data and what category of use does it fit in?’”

Opening in 2017, Canvas Stadium brought football back to the CSU campus for the first time in 49 years. Not only did the move provide students and fans with a better experience, it also gave Ferris and his team the opportunity to review a few areas in which they wanted to improve.

Teaming up with Old Hat, building a use case with its data was focused around three areas: retention, engagement, and communications.

“I think what Old Hat really did well for us is they not only presented data, they presented data with a plan of how to use it. It was data with a to-do list, which has been extremely helpful.” – Chris Ferris, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sales, Marketing, and Communications at Colorado State

Colorado State wanted to know whether or not stakeholders were happy with their investments in the program “monetarily or time-driven” and what areas the department needs to focus on with existing and/or additional resources.

When it came to retention, Ferris was looking for a better way to connect with specific industries — both local and regional — that were relatable in impact in the community as well as an opportunity to provide value from a partnership perspective.

“What are those industries, and where are those opportunities from a corporate perspective that lend themselves to integration and partnership? I thought that was very helpful because if we can connect with those industries that resonate our current stakeholders, that helps us with retention and growth, which is a double positive.”

To drive engagement, the team narrowed in on making sure the department’s messaging was being received correctly. What they found was that while a large part of their alumni base is in Denver, the messaging could be too focused and alumni and fans in cities like Parker, Greeley and Loveland may not be receiving it as well.

Instead of approaching these areas as just a department, the shift has been focused on approaching them more as a team — involving not only the individual athletic programs, but the academic programs like the school’s renowned agriculture department when appropriate.  

Although Ferris and the team can’t solve all the problems at once, their newly found “strategic intelligence” enables them to be more prepared and confident in the initiatives they execute.

“We’re confident that the efforts we’re going to make will have positive results because we’ve done our homework, right? It is good to go into projects with a level of preparedness and confidence like this.”

(*Old Hat is a proud Partner of Front Office Sports)

Adam is the Founder and CEO of Front Office Sports. A University of Miami Alum, Adam has worked for opendorse, the Fiesta Bowl, and the University of Miami Athletic Department. He can be reached at adam@frntofficesport.com.

College Athletics

Why America East Conference Continues to Put Focus on Mental Health

Avatar

Published

on

america-east-mental-health

Image via America East

The America East Conference is strengthening its efforts to be a leader in mental health among its athletes.

The conference last month announced its Board of Presidents adopted the NCAA autonomy proposal to improve student-athlete access to mental health resources. The proposal was originally approved by the Power Five conferences in January, and America East is the first outside the group to adopt the proposal, but Commissioner Amy Huchthausen said the conference’s efforts stretch back several years. Huchthausen also said it wasn’t a major lift to adopt the proposal because of efforts in the past.

Several years ago, the conference’s student-athlete advisory committee surfaced mental health as an area where it wanted greater attention on the campus and league level. The America East’s 4th Annual Health & Safety Summit will be held in May at UMass Lowell, with part of the summit focused on mental health.

“They had seen what we had done in diversity and inclusion from broader conference initiatives,” Huchthausen said. “We were very open to that, but recognized as league leaders and staff, we’re not educated on what we need to talk about.”

The conference then formed a mental health working group comprised of stakeholders ranging from athletic directors to psychologists and student-athletes to identify the major issues. From there, the focus has become to continue to destigmatize mental health subjects and to improve education and access to mental health resources.

READ MORE: NBA Working to Improve Player, Community Mental Health

“Even though there’s more visibility, people still don’t know what it means,” Huchthausen said. “They don’t have a good understanding of what to do next.”

A baseline report of campuses was performed by athletic directors and presidents, and now a standard of best practices will be implemented across America East campuses.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the interest in our athletic directors to spend time on this issue,” she said. “Their frustration and willingness to say it’s important, but don’t know how to address it — that was really encouraging. That’s helped us advance the conversation.”

The impact of college on students’ mental health is already a lot but add in the added pressures of being an elite athlete and those risks are compounded, said Tim Neal, head athletic trainer at Syracuse University.

Neal said one in four adolescent adults meet criteria of a mental health disorder, and athletes are not immune, no matter the pedestal they’re often put on. The stressors of student-athletes can exacerbate existing conditions or bring on new ones, he said.

“There are unique stressors to an athlete, under constant scrutiny and pressure in the classroom just to remain eligible,” Neal said. “One quarter of a newspaper is dedicated to sports; they’re often well-known on campuses; the psychology of injuries. There are a lot of dynamics most people don’t have to think about.”

Neal said an important factor in the improvement of how colleges, administrators and athletes think about mental health stems from the NCAA’s Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline, who has said mental health is the number-one issue in college athletics.

“He’s done more for the student-athletes than anyone else,” Neal said. “He’s made this a priority and is full-speed ahead in developing best practices.”

READ MORE: ‘Diet or Die’: Jesse Marks’ Story Shows Importance of Life Balance in Sports

At the America East level, Huchthausen said the initial reviews of the schools showed most weren’t far off from the pending guidelines, but it did help provide a solid base for standard operating procedures.

She said it’s now more about having a system in place and treated as a true program, rather than a discreet to-do list. Having the conversations also help connect all the resources on campus, that might otherwise be hidden from each other.

“This is an issue that really does touch almost every stakeholder,” Huchthausen said. “The message we want to send is you have to start somewhere. Even if you want a program that would require hiring extra people and adding resources, those might have a high price, even the ideal state, it shouldn’t prevent starting a conversation.

“You have to take the first few steps and that’s what we’re trying to do and hope other leagues follow.”

Continue Reading

College Athletics

Nike Releases Statement in Wake of Zion Williamson Injury

Adam White

Published

on

nike-zion-duke-basketball

Photo via B/R Kicks

During the first half of last night’s UNC vs. Duke game, freshman phenom Zion Willamson tore through his Nike PG 2.5 PE shoes.

Following the incident, Nike released the following statement to Front Office Sports:

“We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery. The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”

After the incident occurred, Twitter lit up with questions as to whether Duke’s star, who is expected by many to be the top overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, should return to the court this year.

Jay Willams even suggested that the injury is further proof that Zion, and other players like him, should be able to go straight from high school to the Draft.

NBA players like Donovan Mitchell chimed in to offer their thoughts on the situation. Mitchell, in particular, called on the NCAA to change.

According to the Sporting News, the most expensive tickets for the game were sold for a whopping $10,652. That number was nearly double the $5,400 price for the most expensive ticket to last season’s game.

That has been the norm for Duke this year as Zion’s presence has jacked up the prices for tickets to games that feature the Blue Devils squad.

According to Vivid Seat’s Stephen Spiewak, sales traffic to Duke basketball’s ticket page on Vivid Seats is up 82 percent so far this season.

Continue Reading

College Athletics

How College Football Bowl Games Provide Experiences and Impact Beyond the Game

College football bowl games provide not only an experience for players and coaches, but also are an avenue for impact on the host cities.

Jarrod Barnes

Published

on

college-football-bowl-games-experience

Photo via Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl

With the large majority of the 40 college football bowl games already completed, postseason competition has certainly lived up to the hype.

For example, while not every game has featured traditional powerhouses, over 3.3 million viewers tuned into this year’s Las Vegas Bowl featuring Fresno State and Arizona State — both of whom welcomed a payout of $1.35 million for participating.

Outside of the revenue generated, bowl games offer more than just a chance to end the season with a victory, but rather a unique experience for players, coaches, and fans. In one fun instance, the Capital One Orange Bowl created a personalized bobblehead of each student-athlete who participated in this year’s game.

To put this all in perspective, media coverage and game highlights can overshadow the overall experience bowl games provide to student-athletes. Here are three examples of players enjoying activities beyond the game and off the field this postseason.

Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl: Toledo Rockets vs. FIU Panthers

One of the youngest and most unique bowl games, the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl was certified in May of 2014 and is the lone bowl game where fans need a passport to travel.

The Toledo Rockets and FIU Panthers had an opportunity to make a difference off the field prior to their game last week by participating in two community outreach events in the capital of Nassau. Both teams visited the Ranfurly Home for Children, where players enjoyed basketball, foot races, and volleyball with the children residing there.

READ MORE: Inside the Event Management Playbook for College Football Bowl Games

“For someone like me, I have never been out of the United States until now, so I can speak firsthand on the importance of staying disciplined and watching things work in your favor,” said Willie Ross Jr., a junior defensive tackle for the Toledo Rockets.

Richard Giannini, the executive director of the Bahamas Bowl, took things a step further and donated 3,000 bowl tickets to students in New Providence in an effort to introduce Bahamian students to the game of American football. Within a span of four years, the Bahamas Bowl has pumped over $23,000,000 into the Bahamian economy and even convinced the Bahamian Minister of Education to introduce TackleBar Football into schools on a trial basis.

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: Florida Gators vs. Michigan Wolverines

Making an impact on the community is important, but another reward of the bowl experience is player hospitality events.

The Gators and Wolverines enjoyed competition outside of this past weekend’s Peach Bowl in the event’s Battle of Bowl Week, featuring go-kart racing, a basketball challenge and other events designed for players to have fun.

“We think of it as a reward for the players,” said Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl President and CEO Gary Stokan. “They’re the ones preparing through the winter, spring, summer, and then playing in the fall. They deserve to be treated first-class. We have a theme we use: live, laugh and learn.”

Players also squared off at the Andretti Indoor Karting facility with high-speed super carts and then in a basketball challenge at the team hotel.

“(Entering the week), we (set) a competition every night for the belt, and whoever won the cumulative rankings got the belt to take home with them,” Stokan said. “We’ve seen that belt in a lot of different places. The guys really get into the Battle for Bowl Week belt.”

In addition to competing, Stokan and the Peach Bowl committee also placed a high value on providing an educational experience as well.

“We wanted them to learn,” Stokan said. “We had Congressman (John) Lewis and Andy Young and C.T. Vivian, who are three of the top eight people in Dr. King’s Civil Rights movement. They talked about leadership. We did it in Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King spoke. And we had both teams sit together, which is a no-no in the bowl business. So it’s a living history lesson.”

While the Peach Bowl offered one of the highly anticipated, marquee matchups this season, the impact of the bowl experience was felt far beyond the playing field.

RedBox Bowl: Michigan State Spartans vs. Oregon Ducks

Not to be overshadowed by this year’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game, the San Francisco Bay Area is also host to an annual bowl game. After four previous name changes since the game’s inception in 2002, the Bay Area’s college football bowl game was renamed the Redbox Bowl earlier this year following a multi-year deal with the new-release movie and video-game rental company.

READ MORE: Inside the Meteoric Rise of College Football Games

“The Redbox Bowl is thrilled to welcome two storied college football brands with shared history like Oregon and Michigan State to play in front of a primetime national audience at Levi’s Stadium,” said Ryan Oppelt, executive director of the RedBox Bowl and director of the Bay Area Host Committee. “The Ducks and Spartans have large alumni contingents in the Bay Area, so we couldn’t ask for a better way to kick off an incredible week of postseason football.”

Players attended a premiere matchup this week at Oracle Arena between the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers. Several Michigan State players were welcomed by Spartans alumnus and current Warriors star Draymond Green after the game.

Student-athletes were also given a tour of the world famous Alcatraz Prison on Alcatraz Island. Outside of sightseeing, both Oregon and Michigan State players volunteered to help those in need at GLIDE and St. Anthony’s in San Francisco ahead of Monday afternoon’s tilt.

As you can see through just a small handful of examples, bowl games provide not only an experience for players and coaches, but also are an avenue for impact on the host cities, local communities, and even countries that participate. The level of responsibility for sports commissions and planning committees is high, but the outcomes can create memories far beyond the game.

Continue Reading

Trending