In the world of college sports, game revenue, recruiting and donations/sponsorships are king. Most schools will not admit to being a revenue-based organization and most will say it is all about the athletes, but if there is no revenue, there is no money to take care said athletes. In order to drive game revenue, recruiting and donations, the first line of offense is the website. In the digital world, the overwhelming majority of people looking for information on a university will first google its website. This being said, it is imperative that a college sports programs website prioritize these 3 pillars of building a successful athletic program (Game Revenue, Recruiting and Donations/Sponsorships). Keeping this strategy in mind, I have decided to examine my alma mater Oregon State Universities Athletics page. My first step was to google “Oregon State Athletics” which is Oregon State Universities website for all athletic programs. It is important that a university is prioritized when searching key words on google and this is exactly what I saw. The Oregon State Athletics tab was the first thing on my list and it took up most of my screen when searching my key words. At first glance the Oregon State Athletics home page was aesthetically pleasing, full of content and seemed to be up to date. I have found too many universities to not keep their athletics page up to date with scores, articles, and current events. Amongst the glitz and glamor of pictures, articles, videos, and sponsorship flags, I want to know how did the Oregon States Athletic page present their page and at the same time take care of the 3 pillars of recruiting?
When examining the first page of Oregon State Athletics, the primary focus was on ticket sales at sporting events. The header of the page is an up to date calendar of upcoming games and as you scroll down the page the event calendar is frozen to the top of your screen. this way no matter where you go on the website, the events will always be visible.
“Ticket sales represent the overwhelming majority of revenue generation in most college athletic departments, and the potential impact of social media on ticket marketing is limited only by the imagination” (Steinbach, 2010).
“Not only do coaches utilize social media to push out information about their programs, but also as a valuable recruiting tool. The vast majority of recruits are on some social media platform and coaches have found it imperative to keep up what everything that is going on.” (Talty, 2011).
The Oregon State Athletic page has made a huge campaign to market themselves as the best college town in the Pac-12 and this is displayed by the very large “Best College Town” logo that you will see multiple time on their website. This is a huge recruiting tool when a parent or a high school athlete is searching the internet to find their best landing spot for a school to play at.
The majority of the page is just more logos of sponsors and ways to donate. You can see that the website is clearly designed to bring in as much money as possible. Oregon state has also always made an effort to pitch their university as a small town / community oriented organization and that is clearly displayed by the link above that takes you to a page where you can donate money to help the athletics program.
Another strategy that has appeared on the home page was a plan / mission statement that linked you to the universities 5 year plan for athletics. If you follow the link you will eventually get to a page where you are asked if you want to donate money to be used for the 5 year plan.
Finally, across every single page of this website you will see images of athletes who are not currently being paid for this advertisements. This is considering the shift in rules by the NCAA and how athletes are to be compensated for these types of images.
NCAA officials on Tuesday opened the door for student-athletes to financially benefit from any use of their name, image and likeness, marking a major shift in the rules governing collegiate sports. (Brooks, 2019)
Areas of Improvement
I would have liked to see more access to videos on the website. If I were a high school athlete looking in to a school, I feel like I would have a much better understanding of the energy conveyed by the school through a video than just images.
I would have also liked to see more current events about how the university is handling the COVID situation an how the athletes lives have changed. Such an interesting story that has not been tapped in to yet.
– What will these websites look like if all NCAA athletes require payment for usage?
– Did you find any Sport organization pages that didn’t revolve around revenue?
-Do you think there is a lack of current media due to the COVID 19 situation and how should universities go about putting together new content during this situation.
-How will these websites change when sports start up again but without being able to sell tickets to the games?
Its a beautiful day for all college athletes going forward from this day on! Thank you guys for allowing me to bring more light to it. I’m so proud of the team at @uninterrupted bringing focus on this and to everyone who has been fighting this fight. Not a victory but a start! ~ a Tweet by Lebron James
Talty, John. (2011, December 15th). How Social Media Affects College Athletics. IBT Time, Doi: https://www.ibtimes.com/how-social-media-affects-college-athletics-383910
Steinbach, Paul. (2010, August). Colleges Use Social Media to Sell Sport Tickets. Athletic Business, Doi: https://www.athleticbusiness.com/College/colleges-use-social-media-to-sell-sports-tickets.html
Brooks, Christopher. (2019, October 29th). NCAA to Let College Athletes Profit From Their Likeness. CBS News, Doi: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ncaa-players-can-get-paid-for-likeness-name-image-and-likeness-officials-say-today-2019-10-29/