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Tuesday, February 19, 2013
The cost of switching conferences

By Kristi Dosh

This summer, the University of Central Florida will try to squeeze in replacing its basketball court between summer camps. Although the Knights expect to increase their revenue long term by joining the Big East, there are some short-term costs associated with realignment.

For example, UCF will spend approximately $40,000 to change out the surface on their two basketball practice courts, basketball game court and volleyball game court to feature Big East logos in place of C-USA logos. In total, UCF will change out 18 conference logos in and around its athletic facilities. They’re budgeting another $25,000 for existing conference signage and interior banners, a number they say could grow if they decide to add additional conference-branded displays.

When UCF student-athletes suit up next fall, they’ll do so in new uniforms, brandishing the Big East name. The athletic department expects to spend $250,000 changing out uniforms currently screen-printed with the C-USA logo. Another $25,000 will be spent to change out logos on letterhead, envelopes and other office supplies.

Other schools have seen more minimal charges. Colorado’s move from the Big 12 to the Pac-12 just happened to coincide with an expansion of its basketball arena and the construction of a new practice facility, meaning new flooring was simply ordered with the Pac-12 logos. A natural grass football field meant no added expense swapping out logos there. With little Big 12 branding and a practice of ordering new uniforms every year, other costs were similarly unnecessary.

Utah spent a little more on its move to the Pac-12. The athletic department says it cost approximately $52,000 to replace logos on the football field and basketball court. However, like Colorado, the Utes didn’t use their former conference logo around the office much, eliminating some replacement expenses. The Pac-12 provided additional signage for venues and new uniform patches, alleviating more of Utah’s costs. The only other large expense was for marketing efforts, which the athletic department says it spent approximately $75,000 on as it moved from the Mountain West to the Pac-12.

Texas A&M spent even more to market its move. Jason Cook, vice president for marketing and communications at Texas A&M, says the Aggies spent “into seven figures” on their extensive marketing efforts from the fall of 2011, when Texas A&M announced its departure from the Big 12, until the school joined the SEC on July 1, 2012. In addition to national commercials, the Aggies wrapped a bus, organized SEC launch parties and placed billboards throughout the state, among other marketing efforts.

With its basketball court at the end of its lifecycle, Texas A&M didn’t incur any additional costs to replace logos on the court, but replacements in and around other playing facilities totaled $150,000.

Cook says the exposure the university has received from the move to the SEC more than makes up for any short-term expenses. Research commissioned by the university showed media exposure from the Aggies’ first SEC football game against University of Florida was worth $6.5 million alone.