USF signs deal with ISP Sports

The USF Athletic Department took a big step in its ongoing attempt to increase the exposure and recognition of USF athletics last week when it signed a 10-year multimedia contract with ISP Sports, the nation’s leader in the collegiate sports marketing industry.

The deal, worth a minimum of $22 million, will give ISP Sports full control over USF Athletics sales and marketing while ESPN Regional TV, which previously held the school’s marketing rights, will continue to handle the distribution of the school’s local and regional television broadcasts. The Winston-Salem, N.C. based ISP is the multimedia rights holder of 45 collegiate athletic properties, including Big East members Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Villanova.

“I think that it’s a partnership between two of the strongest multimedia rights holders for athletics departments in the country,” Athletic Director Doug Woolard said. “And I think it’s going to give us increased exposure nationally and regionally and certainly a boost in revenue.”

According to Woolard, one main focus of the partnership is to expand the market for USF athletics. In an attempt to achieve this goal, ISP Sports has made a commitment to begin broadcasting USF football games in Spanish as well as to provide broadcasts for every Bulls baseball game and every home softball game.

ISP also has a very ambitious plan for how to expand the audience for USF sporting events. The marketing agency is planning the creation of a USF Sports Network that will attempt to bring radio broadcasts to the state’s outlying areas that previously had little exposure to USF.

USF’s partnership with ISP has also created a buzz among the school’s coaches, who see it as a great opportunity to increase their teams’ exposure and generate additional revenue.

“Any time you get picked up by a nationally recognized production company like that it says that, obviously, you’re worth something,” softball coach Ken Eriksen said. “Hopefully, it’s able to generate enough money and enough interest so that we can continue to work on the facilities that we’re working on right now.”

Baseball coach Lelo Prado is also excited about the opportunities the partnership could provide and is happy that the athletic department made such an ambitious attempt to increase the exposure of USF athletics. “You have to give Doug Woolard a lot of credit,” Prado said. “The more (the athletic department) does, the more money that comes into this University and the more facilities (we get) and everything else that goes with it. I can’t wait to work with them and do whatever I have to do to make it happen and make it work even better.”

According to Eriksen, not only does the deal between USF and ISP set the groundwork for future growth, but the partnership also provides a demonstration of how far the University has come and what an important role it plays in the Tampa Bay community.

“If you think about it, we’re in the top 12 media markets in the country, in a dynamic area like Tampa, football is making a splash across the country and the rest of the sports are competing on a national level,” Eriksen said. “So (the deal) says something to the people of Tampa Bay that they have a pretty good product right in front of them.”