Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Texas High School Sports Recruit Sponsor Funding

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Texas High School Sports Recruit Sponsor Funding

Article excerpt

AUSTIN, Texas - Corporate sponsorship of high school athletic and academic competition will become a reality in Texas for some of this year's post-season events.

While fans aren't likely to be watching the ``Coca-Cola 5A Football Championship Game'' or the ``Pepsi 4A Track Meet,'' bids of $250,000 or more annually by those two soft drink manufacturers have been received, and one will be selected perhaps later this month, Bonnie Northcutt, assistant director of the University Interscholastic League, said Wednesday.

Bidders in 15 other categories are sought in advertisements appearing in major Texas newspapers this week.

Some states, such as California, Colorado and Indiana, have corporate sponsorship of high school events.

``Many are already involved,'' Northcutt said, ``and most of the others are considering it.''

Bailey Marshall, University Interscholastic League director general, said the organization would oppose any attempt by sponsors to put their name into the title of state championship events.

Northcutt said the University Interscholastic League will, as part of any agreement, require that all advertising ``must be in good taste and family oriented.''

In return for their money, sponsors will get advertising in University Interscholastic League publications and special recognition at University Interscholastic League events. The largest contributors will be able to sponsor television broadcasts.

The soft drink bids resulted from a University Interscholastic League advertisement in The Wall Street Journal last fall, Northcutt said. A minimum bid of $250,000 annually would make a firm a so-called ``Gold Sponsor.'' A ``Silver Sponsor'' bid is $125,000 or more, with a $75,000 minimum for ``Bronze Sponsor'' status.

Fifty percent of the winning bids in each sponsorship category would be cash, earmarked for existing University Interscholastic League programs. Northcutt said the revenue could help expand the list of state academic events, plus adding some services to state tournament functions. Other money would be used for promotional services, educating the public about the University Interscholastic League and advertising state competition.

The University Interscholastic League plan calls for sponsors in all three groups to commit $10,000 annually toward Texas Interscholastic Foundation scholarships. The awards go to graduating high school seniors who qualify for University Interscholastic League state academic competition. Northcutt said the Texas Interscholastic Foundation last year gave 361 scholarships to Texas colleges worth $461,450.

The money would be administered by the University of Texas system, of which the University Interscholastic League is an extension.

Clay Kallam, media director for one of 10 sections of the California Interscholastic Federation, said that state, nearing the end of a $1 million yearly contract with Reebok, has encouraged sports writers and broadcasters to use the shoe firm's name in reference to championship events. …

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