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Using March Madness Creatively

March 16, 2006

Today, Colleges and Universities from across the country walked onto the court in the annual NCAA Basketball tournament. This tournament is big business for many institutions across the country. It provides great exposure for many small (and large) institutions and brings in substantial revenue for the NCAA. Inside Higher Education reported that the tournament brings in 90 percent of the revenue for the NCAA.

American Action Progress (AAP) fund launched a different type of tournament this week. Their competition highlights some of the academic problems that effect many of the institutions competing in the NCAA men’s tournament. Check out their brackets here: http://www.thinkprogress.org/march-madness

The campaign indirectly pressures corporate sponsors such as Nike, Adidas, and Reebok to urge institutions to improve their graduation rates for student athletes. This group does a very effective job at applying pressure to the right people and they creatively bring this issue to light.

These types of campaigns will become more prevalent as public and private institutions rely more on corporate donations/sponsorships to fund athletic programs. Higher education institutions need to be prepared for these types of direct and indirect campaigns. The Internet makes it easier for these groups to effectively get their message out to the public and stakeholders.

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