Learfield Sports recently became Texas State’s new marketing representative and created a new initiative last week that will hopefully move the university one step closer to solving the quandary that is the visibility of the athletic department.
Texas State Sports Properties was created to manage the Bobcats’ multimedia rights including signage, corporate partnerships, event marketingtradio play-by-play and football coaches’ shows along with advertising on the athletics website. Learfield plans to market Texas State from the Round Rock corridor to the San Antonio region, a step many have asked for and hoped to see in the future.
It is crucial that Learfield helps boost Texas State athletics to the same level of its other clients through the creation of Texas State Sports Properties. The visibility of Texas State is extremely lacking, even in the immediate surrounding area. It is smart for Texas State Sports Properties to first focus on fixing this problem in the Round Rock and San Antonio areas. With the problem of Texas State’s marketing and merchandising being so severe, it is important to first start working on solutions close to home.
The editorial board believes the Bobcats are in capable hands with Learfield in charge of marketing and promotions. The company began as a radio news broadcasting service in 1972 and has become a leader in the collegiate sports industry, mainly through its expertise in radio broadcasting.
According to a March 19 press release, Learfield’s president Greg Brown said the company has helped the other schools it represents leverage their brands through new media channels. Learfield regularly visits with radio stations in targeted markets to broaden exposure for its collegiate partners, he said.
This will hopefully provide the opportunity for Texas State games to be broadcast on outlets other than KTSW 89.9 FM, the student radio station, and local television channels such as the CW Austin. The outlets that currently broadcast athletic events are a good start, but they simply do not reach enough people for Texas State’s recognition to be at the level it needs to be.
Additionally, Brown said Texas State Sports Properties, along with Learfield’s national sales team, will generate “large partnership opportunities.” This is exactly the kind of progress that needs to be made in order to elevate Texas State athletics to a higher status.
Learfield now owns the multimedia rights and athletic partnerships for nearly 100 collegiate properties, including Alabama, Oklahoma State, Miami, Penn State, Boise State and Texas A&M, among others.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, Texas A&M raised a record $740 million in donations last year with Learfield’s help. The revenue exceeded the university’s previous record by nearly 70 percent and was $400 million more than the amount the University of Texas brought in during the same period. Learfield does not represent the Longhorns.
A&M, unlike Texas State, faces little difficulty when it comes to fundraising and bringing in alumni donations. Learfield’s ability to help break fundraising records for schools that are already extremely successful is an encouraging sign of things to come for Texas State.
The product on the field is getting better with Texas State athletics. The football team was the second-fastest program to become bowl-eligible after reaching FBS status. The volleyball team won the Sun Belt Conference in its inaugural year in the league. Track and field is also coming off a championship year in the WAC.
Marketing now has to keep up with the product Texas State is displaying throughout the athletics department. Learfield’s creation of Texas State Sports Properties is a major step in the right direction and, in combination with the emergence of a growing athletics program, should take the Bobcats to new heights.