Ivy League Looks to Boost Profile of Its Sports Teams

CMO of Ivy League Sports Marketing Paul Bamundo Thinks Elite Academics Is Asset, Not Setback

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When it comes to collegiate athletics, jam-packed stadiums and crowds of roaring fans tend to be associated with the Big Ten or SEC conferences, rather than hallowed Ivy League institutions. And it may be hard to imagine corporate sponsors competing to get a stake in the Ivy conference -- but now they'll have their chance.

Paul Bamundo, the recently appointed CMO of Ivy League Sports Marketing, a partnership between JMI Sports and the Ivy League, says an emphasis on academics is part of what makes the Ivies marketable. As part of the 10-year partnership, Mr. Bamundo will oversee development of a corporate sponsorship program on behalf of the conference.

"We definitely believe that sponsors will be interested," Mr. Bamundo told Ad Age. "When you think about what the Ivy League stands for, and then if you combine that with the level of excellence that we've seen out of Ivy League athletics ... you are really looking at a situation where many of the student athletes go on to have jobs like you and I and everybody else. So I think that's an interesting appeal and frankly an asset too, that these are true student athletes who value their academics as much as their athletics."

Prioritizing academics is a "hallmark" of the Ivy League, Mr. Bamundo added, noting that the brand lends itself to a variety of both traditional and non-traditional sponsors.

"We see this as a very unique association and we want to build creative partnerships with companies," Mr. Bamundo said. "We're not necessarily looking for traditional sponsorships. We'd love to be able to speak to companies about their objectives and see if we could create a true partnership together that showcases what their brand has to offer as well."

Robin Harris, the executive director of The Council of Ivy League Presidents, said potential partners have an opportunity to "get in on the ground floor."

The Ivy League stands for excellence -- excellence in everything," Ms. Harris said. "So for us in athletics, the excellence is about providing a world-class education combined with the highest level of competition in Division 1 athletics."

Mr. Bamundo, who is an alumnus of both Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania, says graduates are fervently dedicated to supporting their collegiate sports teams.

"It's one of those rare occasions that I think you truly do root for the conference," he said. "Everyone that I've encountered feels the same way, and that's why from a commercial standpoint, you will have that alumni base who is going to be so passionate about it."

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