Athletic marketing at Texas State severely lacking

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Improving the visibility of the Texas State athletics department is a conundrum. Much like effort of the university as a whole to improve its status and recognition, raising the standards and quality of Bobcat athletics will take time and patience. In the meantime, one of the most basic and important branches of the athletics department must be refined—marketing.

Some say the teams need to win more games if fans are expected to attend. Others say a culture shift that encourages more school pride and tradition must happen before the athletic department can grow, regardless of team performance. One thing even casual observers can agree on, though, is the marketing and promotion of Texas State athletics is by no means at the level a Division I university should be. Even worse, the changes needing to be made are glaringly obvious, a fact that only compounds the issue.

As the supposed “Rising Star of Texas,” it is unnerving that university athletics are not even on the radar of many residents of the Lone Star State. Much of the blame can be placed on the fact that people living outside of San Marcos would be hard-pressed to find Texas State merchandise at retailers like Academy Sports + Outdoors or Lids. While UT-Austin and Texas A&M apparel can be found in Wal-Marts across the state, finding a Texas State T-shirt in Houston, an area dense with Bobcat alumni, is a seemingly
imposs­ible task.

To make matters worse, Texas State merchandise is easily lost among the sea of burnt orange, red and competing maroon, even at local retailers. For instance, there is markedly less Texas State apparel offered at the San Marcos Academy in comparison to UT, A&M and Texas Tech merchandise.

According to the athletics department website, Texas State is licensed under the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), the nation’s “leading collegiate trademark licensing and marketing company.” If this is the case, the “leading” college marketing company should be able to push Texas State apparel and merchandise outside of just San Marcos. Increasing the volume and availability of Texas State merchandise must be improved for Bobcat athletics to receive the fan base and exposure it desperately needs.

On a positive note, Nelligan Sports Marketing, Texas State’s marketing representative, was recently acquired by Learfield Sports. Plano-based Learfield Sports currently represents Alabama, A&M, Stanford and Indiana, among other programs, which are all major athletic institutions recognized across the country. It is not yet clear what Learfield’s acquisition of Nelligan means for Texas State, but it will hopefully help elevate the Bobcats to a level comparable to the company’s other clients.

The athletics department, CLC and Learfield should make an effort to better utilize San Marcos’ ideal location between two major markets, Austin and San Antonio. One could argue the Austin market is already oversaturated with burnt orange. However, Texas State’s goal should not be to convert UT fans or compete with them, but rather to build upon its own brand. Additionally, increasing Texas State’s presence in the San Antonio market would help grow healthy competition with rival UTSA and give the city more than one collegiate team to support.

Texas State apparel should be on hangers and shelves statewide next to merchandise from other major universities. The university and the athletics marketing departments desperately need to work together to find a way to put the Bobcat brand on the map, or, at the very least, make more university merchandise available in San Marcos retail stores.