Black Colleges Don’t Need Sports Promoters Anymore

By Joe Booker
Updated: November 25, 2005

Thirty Second State Farm Bayou Classic

TEXAS—We now live in the age of the computer, email and internet. Black Colleges don’t need to hire promoters to promote their games. Who promotes the University of Texas vs. Texas A&M game? Who promotes any of the Texas games? If a team wins, fans will come.

If Grambling and Southern were fighting for the bottom of the conference each year, you would not see 70,000 people at the game.

Prior to desegregation black schools needed someone to act as the third party to reach the non black media. During the era of desegregation the only big news blacks got was if they committed a crime. Today a good media relations and marketing department can save schools a lot of money by promoting the games themselves.

Collie Nicholson gave the Bayou Classic a world-wide name

Former Grambling State University public relations director Collie J. Nicholson founded the Bayou Classic. He built the Bayou Classic into a national pastime for blacks throughout the nation. Through the efforts of Collie the game has drawn dignitaries, politicians, sports legends and entertainers. Collie was before his time. He was a media genius. He had those natural born people skills that the media could not refuse. He set the foundation for the Classic. Grambling hired promoters during Collie’s era, but the promoters did not have full control of the media. A school should never turn the media over to promoters. I worked with Collie on several games when Prairie View played Grambling. We had control over the media.

Promoters should not have control over the media

School should never give away its greatest asset and that is media contacts. The media relation department from each school should be responsible for issuing media credentials.

Most promoters are more concerned about saving money for themselves, rather than meeting the demands of the media covering the games. The promoters of the Bayou Classic failed to provide credentials that were requested by most of the black media. The Bayou Classic sponsors are almost impossible to communicate with. Several emails and phone calls were not returned. The promoters of the Bayou Classic have taken away the good relationship with some of the media that Collie Nicholson built.

Rivalries promote themselves

I have always laughed when schools hire promoters to promote the Cotton Bowl game between Prairie View and Grambling and the Bayou Classic. Those games are big with the alumni and already have a fan base. With the age of the computer, internet and email, schools can do what promoters are doing. The uses of promoters are no longer needed.

Winning draws fans and not promoters. If this is not true, then why don’t promoters seek to promote games that have the lowest drawing of fans? Grambling and Southern have a great fan base to work with. The media relations department and the alumni of both schools do a good job of selling the program. Do ever wonder why promoters come to a school asking to promote their biggest games? The PVU alumni in Dallas do a good job of selling the Cotton Bowl game against Grambling.

A good marketing media relations department and alumni can save schools money

“We can save you money.” Jim McInvale of Gallery Furniture says it best. Black colleges can save a lot of money by letting their marketing and media relations department promote games. All black colleges have alumni organizations throughout the country. They could use the alumni in various states to push their games. A good athletic director with marketing and people skills are a must. A good campus public relations staff is a must. Why should schools hire a third party when they have the resources to do it themselves? The most important thing should be taking care of the media—the local media—should come first. College Presidents also play a big role in making all of this happen.

The alumni can play a big role in helping promote games. The key is winning. How do you promote a loser? This is why promoters want the big games. They want a given.

All black colleges need to do is hire a good media relation and marketing staff. They would work with the alumni and the local media to sell their product. This will save them a lot of money by eliminating the middle man. Most promoters know very little about the media and some don’t care.