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Unofficial college sports-such as intramural programs open to all students-are now the fastest growing on-campus marketing vehicle, say experts tracking the rise of such programs and their attractiveness to major sponsors.

Intramurals join schools' official teams in making college sports one of the fastest-growing areas of sports marketing. Major companies are already harnessing the power of official college football and basketball teams for mass-market promotions whose reach extends beyond the campus.

Campus Concepts, Baltimore, is capitalizing on the rise of intramural sports with a program reaching more than 100 of the U.S.' largest campuses and encompassing more than 1 million students.


"Intramural sports are the single biggest campus activity, and sponsorship is enhancing the whole experience by bringing in equipment and official organized championships, making participation and competition even more fun for students," said Campus Concepts President Ian Leopold.

Mr. Leopold founded the company in 1985 with a series of sponsored campus information guides, which are fast being eclipsed by intramural sports as Campus Concepts' major revenue source.

Campus Concepts sells title sponsorships for intramural sports that culminate with national championships pitting top intramural teams from different schools against each other.

Nike last year debuted as title sponsor for the Nike College Flag Football intramural program on 100 campuses nationwide; the shoe marketer recently extended the sponsorship for three more years. Other sponsors of Campus Concepts' intramural sports programs have included Mennen Co.'s Speed Stick, Nestle's Butterfinger, Callard & Bowser's Altoids, Trans World Airlines and Airwalk.

Sponsorship costs range from $500,000 to $750,000, with on-campus advertising during events and at sports facilities, plus product sampling.

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