Keeping a Brand Relevant In Changing Times: The NCAA

Every now and then you get one of those over-simplistic, heavily-forwarded group emails that nevertheless contains a scintilla of truth.  Under the heading “Remind Me Again: Which Two Teams Played in the Big East Hoops Championship Game?  Oh, Yeah, Louisville and Connecticut” , this particular email lists Big East graduation rates in basketball, as pulled from the NCAA Database.

  • Marquette 100
  • Notre Dame 100
  • Villanova 92
  • Georgetown 82
  • Providence 77
  • Pittsburgh 75
  • Rutgers 70
  • St. John’s 60
  • Syracuse 55
  • Cincinnati 53
  • Seton Hall 53
  • DePaul 46
  • West Virginia 44
  • South Florida 44
  • Louisville 38
  • Connecticut 27

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonThe snarky point being that the two most successful teams graduated far fewer players than a student-athlete organization like the NCAA would ever want to admit. This came across my laptop as I watched the singular Derrick Rose struggling to lead the Bulls in Game Three of the NBA Conference Finals: he of the single year with the University of Memphis and the since invalidated SAT entrance scores.

When sports serve as extracurricular activities, the scholar athlete notion makes plausible sense. But today, as sports have grown into sprawling, big money corporate machines whose talent development path still depends on the college level, that notion seems quaint and dated. Perhaps not for fencing and crew, but certainly for basketball and football.

And yet we continue to rely on a non-profit organization to play traffic cop. When you think about it, isn’t that kinda like using a Palm Pilot and a beeper to plan your day?


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


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