Thursday, June 9, 2011

Themed Courts and Flashy Fields – The Latest Marketing Tool in College Recruiting

By Katy Fincham

Following in the popular footsteps of University of Oregon, Towson University has thrown themselves full-force into the world of outlandish athletic surfaces, announcing that they are redesigning their basketball court, with the focus on their mascot – the Tiger. According to, the orange watermark tiger stripes on the floor will provide the signature element in addition to new baseline logos and a new ‘Tiger Paw’ mark at the scorer's table.”

While the basketball court design is a unique way to give the facility a facelift and will certainly be a great addition to their new arena, set to open in 2013, the intriguing part of the court’s redesign is that the University coaching staff believes that it will give their program an edge in recruiting.

"Just like Oregon did last year at the Matthew Knight Arena with their new look, we feel that our new court is a plus for recruiting because kids like things that are unique and cutting edge in design, “said newly appointed Towson men’s basketball coach, Pat Skerry.

And Towson University isn’t the only program that feels this way…

It’s safe to say that the college recruiting process is much more competitive that than the actual sport itself. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), 3.1% senior high school basketball players (less than 1 in 35) end up on teams in college and 6% of high school seniors (1 in 16) will play football in college.

College athletic programs have been trying to find new and creative ways to convince young talent that their school is the school to play for. The usual “powerhouse” programs will always have their name and prestige as an easy sell, but over the past few years, we’ve seen more mid-major schools step up to the plate and use flash and pizzazz to convince young athletes that their program is the one to choose.

Boise State’s football program led the way in the movement of using athletic playing surfaces as an attention generator and recruiting marketing tool. The Broncos’ “Smurf Turf” has been around since 1986, and with the recent success of the small Division I program, recruits have taken notice of both the success of the program, as well as the obsessive national attention over the unique field… National attention = recruiting jackpot.

According to Skerry, Towson’s new-look playing surface “has been a discussion item with the new recruits that the program has signed since his arrival in April.” What has yet to be seen is if this investment turns into Stripes of Success or just another marketing gimmick. Stay tuned…

Katy Fincham is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact her at

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