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Celebrating the Champion

Our magazine, sporting a new look, aims to be more visible to a wider range of readers who love college athletics

Brian Hendrickson

My first experience with Champion magazine in summer 2011 was probably similar to others from outside the NCAA membership who come across it.

I had no idea it existed.

I had no idea what it was about.

I was also instantly impressed and intrigued.

Picking it up cast an immediate impression. The beautiful portraits transfixed me. The writing was smart and authoritative. The weight of the paper felt like a coffee-table book. The package was so well-done that it left one lasting question: Why hadn’t I ever heard of this magazine?

The answer is easy, though one that leaves many members we speak with unsatisfied: Champion has been a beloved secret within the membership for most of its life. It’s been circulated to every president, athletics director and head coach and to select administrators. And we know how much you like it.

Last summer, the Champion staff sent a survey to members who receive the magazine. The results were overwhelmingly supportive: Ninety-two percent of respondents said they appreciate receiving Champion. Ninety-seven percent indicated that it’s prestigious to be featured in the magazine. And 85 percent agreed the NCAA should continue publishing a printed magazine. You’ll struggle to find similar support levels from any other publication in America.

And yet we’ve heard another message from those results: Some have suggested Champion preaches to the choir, that its current audience already knows the difference college sports make in people’s lives. We’ve had members tell us in that survey, in committee meetings and in one-on-one conversations that they want Champion in the hands of more people, both inside the membership and out.

And we completely agree.

So starting with this issue, you’re going to see some changes that might seem small but are part of a grander plan for Champion.

We’ve been setting up the pieces for a broader reach of Champion for the past several months with the aim of making it more visible to a wider range of readers who love and support college athletics.

We have a new digital home that makes sharing our stories on social platforms easier, and we are pushing harder to attract subscribers to the print magazine by making it more affordable. With this issue, we have a revamped design throughout the magazine to make Champion more informative and engaging. And we’re looking at new ways to cover important stories in real time, when the Champion voice can be a powerful influence.

In short, we’re aiming to become a more tightly written, forward-thinking, broadly distributed and proactive magazine.

But we’re still your magazine.

Much of what you see will feel similar; some changes might be noticeable. You’ll find a more streamlined Insider section refocused around unique, enterprising examinations of each division’s agenda. And you’ll find more stories about the lessons sport teaches and the important work it carries beyond the playing fields, as told through the voices of our members.

We still have the same great feature stories and photography that impressed me the first time I picked up the magazine. Those will never change. But we’re hoping more supporters of college sports will see them in the months ahead, either through a subscription to Champion, or at NCAA.org/champion.

Our mission is still to serve our members. And by serving you better, our hope is that we’ll produce stories that will compel new readers to start following us.

You can help us in that mission. Share what you love about Champion by following us on Facebook and sharing our stories on your social networks. Give a Champion subscription to a friend – at $5 a year, this deal is tough to beat. And as always, tell us about the great stories on your campus that help us spread the virtues of college sports.

We know our readers are proud of what Champion provides. Now, we’re taking steps to ensure the next readers who pick up Champion don’t have to wonder why they’ve never seen it.