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UH to put marketing out to bid

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After eight years of keeping its marketing in house, the University of Hawaii athletic department said it plans to entertain bids to outsource the rights.

The school currently brings in $3.1 million annually in cash and trade through its "Invest in Success" corporate partner program alone and an additional $3 million from TV, radio and pay-per-view rights.

Together they comprise the third highest form of revenue for UH, which has a budget of approximately $28 million.

UH officials said Learfield Sports and CBS College Sports Properties are among those who have approached the school about outsourcing its sponsorships and multimedia rights.

Sixty-eight companies at various levels of sponsorship provided UH with $2.3 million in cash and $966,031 in trade for the 2009-10 fiscal year, according to John McNamara, UH associate athletic director.

Over the years UH has alternated between outsourcing and retaining its marketing.

In 2000, when June Jones became its football coach, UH signed a multiyear deal with his agent, Leigh Steinberg, to manage its marketing. Steinberg’s firm raised UH’s payment from $600,000 to $899,000 by 2002-03, the final year of the contract.

Under McNamara, who has overseen marketing since 2004, the department has consistently grown the value.

"What John and his people have done is outstanding, especially in this economy," athletic director Jim Donovan said.

The question is, Donovan said, "Can somebody else come in and produce more for us. That’s something we have to look at."

UH has long sought a partner that can deliver national and international clients.

Texas-based Learfield currently has marketing agreements with seven of the nine Western Athletic Conference schools and is in the fourth year of an eight-year contract with WAC. Learfield said it represents more than 50 schools.

Virginia-based CBS is represented locally by Aloha Sports Properties, which has a 10-year advertising contract at Aloha Stadium.


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