Introduction: Next 100 Days; Strategies for Navigating College Athletic Department Financial Shortfalls in a Post-Pandemic World
As the entire world begins to adjust to a post-pandemic world, new realities are setting in for every facet of life. Out are naked faces, in-person meetings, and family gatherings; in are face masks, virtual meetings, and socially-distanced family gatherings. Sports brands are not immune to the changes impacting our day-to-day lives and are finding themselves looking for new ways to drive revenue in a virtual world.
With a new administration taking office in Washington, D.C., much of focus during the coming weeks and months will be on the first 100 days of President Biden’s term. With that in mind, college athletic departments have the chance to map out their next 100 days as the 2021–22 academic year rapidly approaches.
These 100 days represent a defined time period to perform the hard work to have a plan to generate revenues necessary to stabilize budgets in the 2021–22 academic year. Establishing a clear strategy to better align revenue sources is one of the most important steps college athletics departments can take right now to rebuild revenue for the future. Those who seize on the opportunity to define success and the actionable steps to achieve it will reap the benefits.
There’s a spring season ahead that will challenge everyone. But while staying focused on the present, leaders must also keep one eye on the future, to ensure a successful fall semester. We are approaching the one-year anniversary of the onset of the pandemic, which led to the cancelling of most winter sport championships and entire spring sport seasons. But looking forward, it is also is a time of redemption — as winter sports, including men’s & women’s basketball strive to safely complete their regular seasons and transition into postseason play for the first time in two years.
In short order, departments across the country will be preparing to graduate a class of seniors who have shown more resilience and fortitude than any class in memory. Through a conglomeration of virtual classes, virtual team meetings, and athletic staffs spread thinner than ever; these student-athletes, along with their coaches, support staff, and administrators, have navigated the most tumultuous time in the history of college athletics.
These 100 days not only allow the opportunity to salute a historic senior class, but to set your department up for success in fiscal year 2022 and beyond. Through the complex challenges being faced by athletic departments in the next 100 days, a grand opportunity exists — for those with the audacity to take it and set a plan for success.
The risk is for athletic departments without a clear plan for action, innovative revenue generating programs, preparation for multiple timing scenarios, and a clearly communicated strategy to recover and rebound is that when we are finally able to return fans to stadiums and arenas, they’ll find their seats remain empty and will be left on the sidelines until the next budget cycle to reengage sponsors.
Our upcoming three-part series will present the opportunity for college athletics to set a plan for future success in the next 100 days.
Part Two: Key elements of the plan — what’s it going to take?
Part Three: OK — we have a plan. Now what?
The next 100 days are your chance to create and implement your vision for fiscal year 2022. The comeback begins now.
Bullpen Strategies principal Graham Dunn, a corporate partnership expert and veteran of the industry, leads Bullpen’s charge to drive revenue for brands and properties in a post-pandemic world. Dunn uses his extensive experience from all aspects of sales in the industry to build a roadmap to ensure financial success for both today and tomorrow. Bullpen Strategies engages with teams and brands from across the industry, lending expertise to build new partnerships, repair balance sheets and increase fan engagement. For more information, please visit bullpenstrategy.com.