To Outsource, or Not to Outsource, That is the Question!

November 8th, 2017 | by Dan Gale
To Outsource, or Not to Outsource, That is the Question!


Last week I had the pleasure of attending my fifth Collegiate Athletic Leadership Symposium in Norman, Oklahoma. I will start by saying if you have yet to attend this event, and are in a senior level leadership position on a college campus, I would highly recommend you mark your calendar for October of 2018. There are great insights provided within a protected environment for Athletic Directors and senior administrators to allow discussion of current topics and issues, with the added benefit of access to search firms is unlike any other gathering around college athletics.

One of the topics discussed was outsourcing of multimedia rights and ticketing sales. There was a session featuring the esteemed Dr. Bernie Mullin, founder of The Aspire Group, as a panelist in which a question arose about why would a school outsource their rights? Dr. Mullin responded by stating, “I would never outsource my rights.” This may sound like an interesting comment coming from the head of an outsourcing agency, but the sentiments ring true when you dig deeper and understand why he can say this:


Bernie Mullin has tremendous expertise in building revenue generation strategies on college campuses, professional organizations and across hundreds of organizations through his external offerings. He and his team have the expertise and wherewithal to understand what would need to be done for his organization. However, most organizations do not have this type of expertise or person on their staff with these credentials, especially at limited-resource institutions. Unless you evaluate your team and expertise of leadership it can be very hard to understand if you have the needed knowledge base within your senior team.

If your team does not have the prerequisite expertise, there are still resources available to provide consulting services on ticket sales options, corporate partnership strategies for build out etc. Internal expertise should not be the only way to judge your capability to manage as there are many good consulting agencies who can help this process.


Being a state-affiliated organization or public institution of higher learning may limit the way you can hire, fire, and compensate employees. Having a partnership with an external organization can provide for the proper structure and incentivizing of sales teams to enable growth. Understanding what options you have and examining your current structure will enable you to make a sound decision on if you can you build this unit internally or need to outsource. This can only be done after evaluating your structural capabilities.


Hiring good salespeople is the number one concern of every organization that I have consulted with, worked with or talk with daily. Having a pipeline of talent is one of the key selling metrics of an outsourcing organization. If you are considering bringing ticket sales or corporate sponsorship rights in-house, making sure you have the right leader and right sales team will be one of the most crucial factors in sales success and upside growth potential. Without the right leader and team, you could be a ship without a paddle and lose tremendous amounts of revenue in the process!

With the IMG-Learfield merger being fresh on everyone’s mind, the topic of bringing rights back ‘in-house’ has been the number one question I receive from athletic directors and senior level administrators. The amount of calls coming in from people wanting to explore this option has increased drastically, but there is a concern on what exactly bringing ‘in-house’ means and how to go about the process. We at Leona Marketing Group offer the experience needed to help build your internal structure, but recommend first examining ‘Who You Are’ to understand what burdens lie ahead to be the most important factor in determining if your organization has the capability to handle your rights ‘in-house’. We recently performed our proprietary MAS Evaluation on an athletic department helping them determine their capabilities to handle ‘in-house’. sales structure. We examined the main aspects that affect growth and development of a property, barriers internal and external, structural options and their net revenue position. Taking an external look at their current situation helped understand it would be in their best interest to remain outsourced as they did not have the expertise or ability to manage and build out the sales process. This may not be the case with your organization but unless you examine your situation first, you may make a huge mistake pulling rights internally.

If you are in a position like Bernie, not needing to outsource your rights, I applaud you! However very few of us have the knowledge, expertise or staff that Dr. Mullin has around him. If you don’t, I recommend making sure you perform an internal review first to have justification for your decision to your President, Board of Trustees, staff, donors, supporters, and fans. If it leads to determining a need to outsource, I know Dr. Mullin will be there to take your call!

Dan Gale About Dan Gale
Dan Gale has been working in and around college athletics for the past 15 years. He has worked in fundraising and operations at the University of North Carolina, Temple University and East Stroudsburg University. He spent the bulk of his career at CBS Collegiate Sports Properties in leadership roles at the United States Air Force Academy, Old Dominion University, Towson University and University of Maryland. Upon leaving college athletics, he spent four years in the private sector building companies focusing with college athletics in the areas of technology and secondary ticket sales. He is currently the President of Leona Marketing Group, helping athletic departments formulate their revenue generation strategies and negotiating their multimedia rights.

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