PAC-12 Arrives – Let the Games Begin

Tomorrow (7/1) marks the day the University of Colorado and the University of Utah join the PAC-12. For CU, the move is from one BCS Conference to another – no big deal. For Utah the move is from a non-BCS to a BCS conference – this is a big deal. Being part of the PAC-12 is historic in another sense. The league is the second oldest in the country with only the Ivy League having a longer history.

Reportedly there is a network deal with ESPN and Fox worth about $3 billion to the PAC-12 (Daily Camera). As a result the move could be worth an additional $20 million each year to CU. While this is not a firm number, neither it or other preliminary estimates are chump change. Unfortunately, CU and Utah will need substantially more to be competitive in the new league.

Being in the PAC-12 presents a number of new marketing opportunities for the newcomers, particularly given CU’s large alumni base on the West Coast. And on the academic side, Buff leaders are quick to make the claims that the PAC-12 conference in more in line with the CU academic mission.

At the moment the conference is thriving under the aggressive leadership of Larry Scott. CU and Utah will definitely benefit from his actions.It was necessary for both schools to make the jump, given the race by other programs to construct a series of super conferences. If either school failed to take advantage of this opportunity they would have ended up in a weak conference.

Not only did the Buffs and Utes find a home; they now reside in one of the country’s elite athletic conferences. HOWEVER; being tabbed as an elite programs presents the newcomers with a series of new challenges- how are they going to survive in the race to raise or generate the most money, build the best facilities, hire the top coaches, and recruit premier athletes.

The bottom line is that CU and Utah were invited into the PAC-12 to generate money and develop winning teams. It is that simple. Let the games begin!

For further information on the PAC-12, click here, or go to


QuickStart Gets Kids in Swing of Tennis

Recreation is big business. It is important for sporting goods companies, recreation programs, commercial sports facilities, coaches and instructors, and sports physicians to bring new players into their respective sports, make the sport easy to learn, and keep them hooked for life. They are all promoting a healthier form of addiction than being a workaholic, eating too much chocolate cake, or consumption of illegal substances.

Skiers scoffed when short skis were introduced – they were thought to be impure and would prevent skiers from mastering the sport. Tennis players cringed when the oversize Prince racquet was introduced – only little old ladies who played doubles would use them. In time, other sports have followed suit, there are short golf clubs, smaller softballs, and light volleyballs.

Most recreation participants are kids and weekend warriors – they are not the masters of the moguls or tennis players with 130 mph serves. They are the players who benefit from oversized racquets, short skis, and light volleyballs.

On June 19, 2001, the Broomfield Enterprise featured an article entitled, “QuickStart gets kids in Swing of Tennis.” The city recreation program adopted the QuickStart program for select junior programs. In some form, the short court, light balls, shorter racquets, and altered scoring that was recently adopted by the Broomfield recreation group has been the standard for the past 20+ years.

Advantage Broomfield Recreation Department! Advantage tennis! Hopefully the change will serve as encouragement to  more juniors to gain a true appreciation for what a great sport tennis is.


Alumni Role in Higher Education – Athletics and Academics

Right or wrong, alumni play a role in who coaches the football team at their alma mater. College athletics is big business and athletic directors are constantly challenged to increase donations and fill the seats in their football stadiums and basketball arenas. The easiest way to do that is with a winning team.

The December 29, 2009 issue of the Daily Camera provided a humorous quote about this topic. It stated…

Urban Meyer will be taking a leave as Florida football coach, some 34 years after Jim Sweeny resigned at Washington State.

Both cited health reasons, but the underlying causes were as dissimilar as their records of 56-10 and 26-59-1.

Meyer suffers from persistent headaches, triggered by stress, rage, and excitement.

Sweeney’s health issue, “The alumni were sick of me.”

Sweeney’s quip raises a number of more serious questions:

• How should the big business of college athletics be funded? State tax dollars? Tuition? Higher ticket prices? Professional sports leagues who use college sports as a farm system? Increased student fees? Increased donations from alumni and corporations?

• Are players adequately paid for their contribution to the big business of college athletics? How much will the cost of programs increase if college athletes are compensated for playing?

• How much say should major donors have in the management and operation of athletic programs? (As funding for colleges and universities dries up this is an even greater issue on the academic side – Athletics has led the way in this regard.)


PAC-10 Royalties About $12 Million per Year

The front page headline of the Sunday June 5, 2011 Boulder Daily Camera read “CU Beefs up Protection of its Brand.” The article brings new meaning to importance of royalties and the popular phrase, “Your Colorado Buffs.”

The article stated that the university generates approximately $750,000 per year from royalty revenues. The top licensees that pay royalties are:
• EA Sport – video game maker $81,524
• Nike $57,676
• Gear $35,863.
Nationwide, the top collegiate apparel licensee is Knights Apparel, the largest supplier of apparel to Walmart.

The article provides the annual royalty revenues for schools currently in the Pac-10.

USC                                            $2.0 million
UCLA                                          $1.7 million
University of Oregon                      $1.5 million
Arizona State University                $1.2 million
University of California (Berkeley)   $1.1 million
University of Washington               $1.1 million
Oregon State University                     $926,000
Washington State University              $864,000
University of Colorado                        $750,000
University of Arizona                          $740,000
Stanford                                            $707,000.

The total for the Pac-10 is about $11.9 million or $1.2 million per school. By comparison the annual total for the University of Texas is $10 million.

While these amounts are small compared to the total athletic budgets of the respective universities, they are large enough to support one or two minor sport teams. Look for protection of the Ralphie logo and the CU brand to be ramped up as CU enters the PAC-12. These are “Your Colorado Buffaloes” just be careful how you use their logo and Ralphie’s likeness.

Strong is Beautiful

The Women’s Tennis Association recently released its ad campaign Strong is Beautiful.

The effort was deemed necessary to maintain sponsorships, ensure attendance at events, and viewership on television. Despite growth in U.S. tennis participation, the WTA took a proactive stance because of a challenging global economy and the lack of dominant players on the circuit.

Some say the campaign is sexist and exploits the women athletes. Others think the campaign is a brilliant means of portraying the qualities of a champion.

The verbiage from several of the ads follows:

Ana Ivanovic
“During the War in Serbia they bombed us all day and all night, but if I got up early I could practice before the planes came.”

Kim Clijsters
“Before I had a baby I devoted all my time to tennis. Afterwards, I had to compromise. Now, I devote 100% of my time to the baby and 100% to tennis..”

Serena Williams
“Before every slam I pick out 7 outfits. SEVEN – one for every match I need to win. I wouldn’t pick seven outfits if I didn’t plan on wearing them all.”

Li Na
“China is a country of 1.3 billion people. Yet, we’ve never had a #1 player or a Grand Slam Champion. No pressure.”

Note: Li Na won the 2011 French Open Championships (after this ad campaign was released).

Strong Is Beautiful - Dominika Cibulkova
Strong Is Beautiful – Dominika Cibulkova




Over the years I have worked in various sectors of the public and private sector. This includes managing sports programs in private and non-profit organizations. What I learned from that experience is that many of the principles of sports and the business world are interchangeable.

As well, I have conducted research on many aspects of the economy, including major industry and cluster analyses and state level employment and economic forecasts. The performance of the economy impacts sports teams. As well, the performance of sports teams can have an impact on the local economy. My experience in this area taught me that there is no free lunch, i.e. everything is related in some fashion.

Sadly, I have watched parents fight under the bleachers at their siblings’ baseball games and watched in horror as recreation departments had no clue about the differences between games, play, sports, and athletics. It is no wonder the country has an obesity problem among our youth.

I have known child prodigies who burned out by the time they were 15 years old and I have experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. At the same time I have experienced the joys of coaching players when they hit their first volleyball serve in as well as when it became necessary for them to move from the area to become top ranked national athletes.

Sports is a microcosm of life. The intent of this blog is to touch issues related to sports other than the numbers on the scoreboard.

Best wishes.

the business of sports, the role of sports in society, and the coaching of sports.