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Cox pays $5.5M for 10-year naming deal at LSU academic center

Cox pays $5.5M for 10-year naming deal at LSU academic center

JENNIFER LEE

Published

Cable TV and Internet service provider Cox Communications of Baton Rouge signed a 10-year, $5.5 million naming-rights deal with the Tiger Athletic Foundation, the private fund-raising arm for Louisiana State's athletic department.

Under terms of the deal, Cox will provide the Tiger Athletic Foundation with cash and wiring and equipment services in exchange for naming rights to the university's academic center for student athletes.

The funds and in-kind contributions will go toward a $15 million to $16 million renovation of LSU's Gym-Armory building, which houses the university's existing academic center for athletes. Once renovations are complete, the academic center will be renamed the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student Athletes.

The academic center renovations started this summer and are scheduled to be completed by September. The project will increase the building's usable space from 10,000 square feet to 54,000 square feet and provide the center with the latest technology and computer services.

The naming-rights deal is part of Cox Communications of Baton Rouge's "Diplomacy Initiative," which provides cash and in-kind support to local universities to promote academic and athletic excellence.

In fact, Cox is close to completing a sponsorship deal with Southern University athletics. That deal, valued at $400,000 over 10 years, would help the Division I-AA university buy new scoreboards for its stadium and also includes scholarship and internship components. As part of that deal, Cox would be one of four sponsors featured on Southern's new scoreboards.

Cox Communications of Baton Rouge serves seven parishes in southern Louisiana: East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston, Ascension, St. James and East Feliciana.

UCLA AD SEARCH: Executive search firm Heidrich & Struggles has been hired by UCLA to help identify candidates to replace athletic director Peter Dalis, who announced earlier this month that he would retire June 30.

Heidrich & Struggles will work with UCLA administrative vice chancellor Peter Blackman in identifying candidates. Search firm officials said they were scheduled to meet UCLA officials last week to determine the criteria and process for the search.

Dalis, 63, is in his 19th year as UCLA's athletic director. UCLA is a perennial top-10 finisher in the Sears Directors' Cup, awarded for overall sports excellence. UCLA has 22 sports and operates with a budget of more than $36 million a year.

University officials hope to have a new athletic director named sometime next spring.

GEORGE'S AMERICAN PLAN: Although he's only a few weeks into his job as American University's AD, former Octagon senior vice president Tom George is already knee-deep in plans to boost support for the university's teams.

"Right now we have a pretty good on-floor product, but it's not as good a sponsor product simply because there are not enough eyeballs looking at the sign boards," said George, who started his new position Nov. 1.

American, a Division I-AAA program that this year moved from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Patriot League, has not drawn the number of fans it is capable of attracting, George said. According to NCAA figures, American's men's basketball team last year averaged 2,902 a game. Its volleyball team, which won the Patriot League title, has drawn at best only a couple hundred fans a game, George said.

"Fund raising, whether through sponsorships or alumni giving, will be more effective if we have that atmosphere of having exciting, fun programs," he said.

Already, George is heading up efforts to revamp the school's student and alumni incentive programs. A youth program also will be introduced in the coming weeks, he said.

Jennifer Lee can be reached at jlee@amcity.com.

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