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DI Board approves bowl advertising, sponsorships, promotional policies

By Greg Johnson 

The Division I Board of Directors at its meeting on Thursday in Indianapolis approved the recommendations of the NCAA Bowl Licensing Task Force regarding bowl advertising, sponsorships and promotional policies.

The guiding principles are designed to encourage sponsors of the bowls and other bowl-related events to support the NCAA’s interests in student-athletes and higher education.

Bowls will also be required to exclude any advertisements and sponsorships that do not appear to support those interests.

A bowl operator may ask the NCAA for an advisory opinion before securing a bowl title or major sponsors such as a halftime sponsor.

The requirements, which will be implemented for the 2013-14 bowl season, were developed by the NCAA national office staff after receiving input from the membership, bowl operators and other key constituents.

In the interim, current postseason-bowl guidelines remain in effect for bowl operators. However, bowl operators are cautioned against making contractual commitments past the 2012-13 bowl season.

NCAA President Mark Emmert will have the authority to rule in cases where doubt exists concerning acceptable advertising or promotion of a bowl.

Examples of permissible advertisements and sponsorships include health-related topics that are beneficial to one’s physical or mental health; hygiene-related products; federally approved prescription drugs; most cause related events such as National Alliance of Brest Cancer Organizations; and governmental agencies.

Areas of impermissible advertisement include sports wagering; athletics recruiting services; alcoholic products such as malt beverages, beer and wine; companies primarily involved in the manufacturing or selling of tobacco or tobacco-related products; firearms and ammunition and other weapon-related products; public personalities whose persona/images are inappropriate for NCAA audiences; and advocacy viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance such as religious or political beliefs.

Bowl timeframes

The board also approved the start and ending dates for the postseason bowls through the 2019-20 academic year. Here are the dates approved:

  • 2013-13 December 15-January 8
  • 2013-14 December 21-January 13
  • 2014-15 December 20-January 12
  • 2015-16 December 19-January 11
  • 2016-17 December 17-January 9
  • 2017-18 December 16-January 8
  • 2018-19 December 15-January 8
  • 2019-20 December 21-January 13

Bowl-eligible teams

The board had a lengthy discussion about the possibility of there not being enough bowl-eligible teams for the current 35 bowls.

One of the options would be for a bowl to forgo having a game if there are not enough eligible teams.

To be bowl eligible, Football Bowl Subdivision teams must meet the academic standards and have at least a 6-6 record, in which only one of the victories is against a team from the Football Championship Subdivision, provided that opponent has averaged 90 percent of the permissible maximum number of grants-in-aid per year in football during a rolling two-year period.

Another option would be to provide the bowl games and affiliated conferences a waiver process in which teams with losing records could compete in a postseason bowl provided they meet all academic standards. Board members discussed whether any exemption should be a one-time proposition or if it would be used whenever needed.

It was decided that this issue needs further vetting and will be on the board’s agenda when it convenes again in August.

After the task force was formed in April 2011, it was determined that the NCAA move to a certification process that puts more responsibility on the Board of Directors and the chief executive officers of the sponsoring bowl organization.

This brought an end to the NCAA Postseason Bowl Licensing Subcommittee. Since 2004, the subcommittee licensed bowls to conduct games based on criteria such as minimum attendance figures, letters of credit, media and community support and financial guarantees.

Bowls and the conferences with which they are contracted are now responsible to work out those details.

The NCAA national office will collect questionnaires annually from each sponsoring agency on how they are managing their governance process.  Staff  will also  collect  financial data such as an institution’s participation costs in bowl games, the revenues received from bowl games by conferences and revenue and expenses of the bowl operators.  

The three-year bowl moratorium adopted in April of 2011 remains in effect to determine the impact of the new regulations on postseason bowls.