Title page for ETD etd-10132004-095000

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Chenevert, Reagan Thomas
Author's Email Address rchene1@lsu.edu
URN etd-10132004-095000
Title The Sports Appeal: Are Athletics a Viable Academic Marketing Vehicle in Higher Education?
Degree Master of Mass Communication (M.M.C.)
Department Mass Communication
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Richard Nelson Committee Chair
Gene Sands Committee Member
Lori Boyer Committee Member
  • academic perception
  • higher education public relations
  • branding through athletics
  • higher education marketing
Date of Defense 2004-09-27
Availability unrestricted
Universities are beginning to brand themselves. The days when the doors to higher-ed opened and students flooded into the classrooms are no more. Colleges have to find ways to separate themselves from each other in a noisy marketplace. Also there is a decline in newsroom resources for academic coverage, which leaves university marketers searching for ways to communicate their messages. However, universities have another available marketing outlet, which is not seeing declining media attention: sports. College sports are a big business, which generate national media attention. The Southeastern Conference had revenues of over $100 million from the marketing of its sports to television networks. The national reach of college sporting events is immense and university marketing officials have the opportunity to capitalize.

This study examined a communications campaign launched by Louisiana State University's Office of University Relations to see how it translated athletic coverage generated by its 2003 college football national championship appearance into academic promotion. This case study was used to determine if athletics are a viable academic marketing tool in higher education. It used student enrollment, licensing revenue, and movement in the U.S. News and World Report's college rankings subsequent to the championship to evaluate the campaign and determine if sports are a viable academic marketing vehicle.

Athletic success provided a Halo around the LSU brand and its Office of University Relations capitalized by launching a marketing campaign titled A Great Game Plan On and Off the Field. Since winning a football national championship LSU has realized a 208% increase in licensing royalties, student enrollment has reached record numbers, and its academic reputation ranking in U.S. News and World Report's college rankings increased. The positive results realized by LSU after winning an athletic national championship are an indicator that sports are an effective academic marketing vehicle in higher education.

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