The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), based in Hampton, Virginia, is the nation’s oldest African American conference and is made up of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) situated along the eastern seaboard.  Since 1912, the conference has provided young men and women with the educational and life experiences needed to become productive members of society.  As the name indicates, athletics has played a major role in the success of the conference. Prior to the civil rights initiatives of the 1960s and the affirmative action activity of the 80s and 90s, the CIAA provided America with some of its most storied and important sports personalities.   Earl “The Pearl” Monroe (national college player of the year and star with the New York Knicks), Curly Neal (famous Harlem Globetrotter), Sam Jones (Boston Celtic and one of the first blacks to ever play in the NBA), and Clarence “Big House” Gaines (the NCAA all-time leader in basketball wins as a coach) all call CIAA home and still play a major role in the success of the conference.  

The CIAA legacy is maintained today as the conference continues to produce quality student athletes and young adults.  At the heart of the CIAA’s success is its annual year-end basketball tournament that serves to crown the men’s and women’s basketball champion. More important, however, the “CIAA” provides fans with a week long event that includes fashion shows, musical concerts, family and alumni reunions, and gala events that serve as an annual celebration for all CIAA fans. Part Essence Jazz Festival, part NCAA Final Four, part Cannes Film Festival, the tournament offers an experience that can best be described as the quintessential cultural experience.  

The CIAA tournament is the single largest source of revenue for the conference.  The proceeds from ticket sales and sponsor contributions (totally over $2 million each year) are the life-blood of the conference and provide scholarship monies to each member institution. In addition, proceeds are used to fund additional conference championships (baseball, volleyball, cross-country, etc.).  Clearly, the viability of the conference rests on the success of this annual tournament.  The Division II conference, however, ran into some difficult times in the early 1990’s for several reasons. From a marketing and public relations standpoint, there were several challenges to overcome:


The CIAA Management team recognized the need for marketing in the fall of 1997 and hired a marketing firm out of Winston-Salem to handle marketing for the 1998 and 1999 tournaments.  With the move to Raleigh for the 2000 tournament, and the need to step up the entire marketing program, Richard French & Associates was hired in the summer of  1999 to handle marketing and public relations for the conference going forward.  The city of Raleigh had aggressively pursued the tournament through an extensive bid process and city officials were excited to showcase its new Entertainment and Sports arena. 


In an effort to understand how the CIAA conference and the tournament week was perceived by the fans, RF&A conducted a research study.  Alumni databases were gathered from all twelve institutions.  A listing of hotel guests from previous cities was obtained from a booking broker.  Census information was pulled from public databases and “likely fans” (i.e. predominately African American areas with household incomes over $50,000, etc.) were identified in our key CIAA communities (based on existing school locations and former CIAA university towns).  Random telephone surveys were conducted in the effort to determine the fan’s attitudes and opinions regarding the conference, the tournament, and the host city amenities (from previous cities).  The database, totally over 100,000, was grouped into four major categories: alumni, faculty and administration, hotel guests from previous years, and general fans. 


Our research resulted in some key findings that would drive our marketing and PR efforts for the 2000 tournament:

Fans were most interested in the following…

·         Quality of facilities (arena and hotels)
·         Seat location 
·         Having other things to do during tournament week
·         Having things for women to do (since crowd is 50/50 men and women)

Other interesting findings…

·         70% of fans who attended the tournament were 45 years old or older
·         80% of alumni now live in North Carolina, Virginia or Maryland
·         72% of all known alumni live in ten cities (Richmond is 1st, Raleigh/Durham 2nd)

Raleigh appeared to be the ideal location for the tournament for several reasons:

·         Raleigh is within 150 miles of eleven of the twelve CIAA institutions
·         Raleigh had over fifty hotels within ten miles of the arena
·         According to our alumni database, their were over 30,000 known CIAA alumni within ninety miles of Raleigh
·         The state-of-the-art Entertainment and Sports arena had over 12,000 lower level seats including an incredible suite and club level seating 
·         Large amount of college students in the area (in addition to the three CIAA schools, the Raleigh area also is home to N.C. State University, the University of North Carolina, and Duke University).
·         Large amount of young professionals in the area (Raleigh’s Research Triangle Park attracts people from all over the world to the area).


1.      Core Fans – 45 – 65 year olds who have attended five or more tournaments
2.      Young Professionals – 25- 40 year olds who would have an affinity to CIAA due school affiliation, geographic location or race
3.      Students – CIAA college students, other area colleges (Duke, UNC, etc.)


·         Leverage host city – Raleigh, NC
·         Continue to raise and enhance the image of the CIAA Conference
·         Increase ticket sales!  Stretch Goal would be arena sell-out.


·         Leverage key attributes of host city
·         State-of-the-art arena
·         Over 50 hotels within 10 miles of arena
·         City hospitality 
·         Introduce the “CIAA Experience” to area young adults aged 25 - 40
·         Speaking engagements
·         Happy hour social promotions
·         Internet presence with high traffic sites
·         Introduce  the “CIAA Experience” to CIAA students and local area students
·         Full time field marketing coordinator 
·         On-campus promotions and material distribution
·         Tie-in with sponsor initiatives 
·         Heavy public relations push locally
·         Pep rally/press conference
·         VIP press kits and press relations
·         National media relations push: USA Today; Vibe Magazine; Essence/Ebony; Code Magazine

Collateral materials include:

·         Posters – distributed throughout RTP area, on campuses, in bars and nightclubs, etc.
·         Student designed posters – distributed on campuses
·         Direct mail piece – mailed to all known alumni and several key areas of Raleigh (60,000+)
·         Schedule cards – pocket cards distributed throughout area, campuses, restaurants, etc.
·         Student newsletter – distributed throughout campuses and youth oriented social areas
·         Window Stickers – distributed throughout campuses and area
·         Tent cards – appear on tables at all social event promotions
·         Flyers – customized by each promotion
·         Press Kits – given or mailed to top 50 press

Giveaway and prize merchandise includes:

·         T-shirts
·         Hats
·         Mouse pads
·         Mini-basketballs
·         Coasters
·         Pens
·         Napkins

On-Campus Marketing and Promotions

·         Fall Campus ‘Tour’
·         DJ Show
·         Ticket giveaways
·         Merchandise giveaways
·         CIAA contests
·         Cheerleader exhibitions, Band exhibitions, Step Exhibitions
·         Distribution of posters and other collateral material
·         14 minute video available on request (and sent to school chancellors and presidents)
·         Winter bookstore and cafeteria ticket awareness events
·         In conjunction with existing DJ show visits (which promote step show)
·         In conjunction with Burger King $1 million shot promotion (where possible)
·         Special student ticket offers - 2 ticket books and 2 step show tickets for $95 or special single day ticket options
·         Giveaways of CIAA merchandise (mouse pads, coasters, pens) 
·         Rivalry Game Promotions
·         Collateral distribution
·         PA announcements
·         Media relations
·         Campus radio station tie-ins


·         Radio – Clear Channel Radio – Foxy 107, WQOK 97.5, The Light
·         $15,000 in paid ads running January 10th - February 18th  
·         Over $500,000 worth of air time traded out (with ticket books) for on air promotions
·         Includes full pre-recorded :30 and :60 second spots, DJ liners, remote broadcasts, etc.
·         Recorded message on Clear Channel ‘date’ lines
·         Tom Joyner Morning Show – Nation’s number 1 African American radio program broadcast live from CIAA Tournament (Estimated $500,000 media value)
·         CIAA VIP attendance at broadcast
·         CIAA on-air interviews – broadcast nationwide
·         Pre-event publicity
·         Promotional partnership with Campus and CIAA community radio channels:
·         WNCU (NCCU), WSHA (Shaw), WAUG (St. Augustine’s), WXII (WSSU)
·         WAAA in Winston-Salem
·         Radio One – Richmond (Power 92)
·         Soul Classics – Norfolk/Hampton/Virginia Beach
·         Television – UPN 28 WRDC
·         Live broadcast of eight (8) CIAA tournament games
·         Airing of CIAA Sports Champions PSA vignettes over six (6) week period
·         $10,000 in paid advertising running February 3rd – February 23rd
·         Over $100,000 worth of air time traded out (with ticket books) for on air promotions
·         On air sweepstakes and contests
·         Inclusion of CIAA promotional items in all UPN28 sales calls (hats, etc.)
·         Print – Newspaper – News & Observer, Triangle Tribune
·         $10,000 in paid advertising with News & Observer – Ads running between January 21st through February 25th.  One-color and B&W ads rotating between Sports, Metro and Day sections.
·         Over $30,000 worth of trade out advertising expected from N&O “CIAA Sweepstakes” promotion – Win signed Evander Holyfield paraphernalia – including boxing gloves and T-shirts – as well as CIAA tournament tickets.
·         Extensive editorial coverage of CIAA and Tournament:
·         Cover article in January 12th Metro section
·         Verbally committed to running a 4-page special section for the week of the tournament (either Sunday or Monday edition) with comprehensive details of CIAA tournament.
·         Verbally committed to running feature business article on Coca-Cola and its 33-year relationship with CIAA – Includes interviews with Coke Senior Vice President Gary Azar.
·         Over $2,000 in paid advertising with Triangle Tribune including back cover placement.  Ads running between February 1st and February 29th.
·         Additional trade out advertising in exchange for tickets.
·         Extensive editorial coverage leading up to and during CIAA Tournament.
·         Partnership with Triangle Tribune sister newspapers – The Chronicle in Winston-Salem and The Charlotte Post.
·         Direct Mail Piece – First class promotional piece mailed to key alumni
·         Mailed January 14th
·         Mailed to over 60,000 alumni and Raleigh-area targets
·         Over 25,000 alumni within 90 miles of arena
·         Includes campus ticket information, Raleigh hotel information, CIAA extracurricular event information
·         Website Promotional tie-ins
·         Dynasty 5
·         Raleigh CVB
·         City Happenings 
·         Black College Sports
·         UPN
·         Clear Channel Radio


·         VIP press meetings, interviews and phone conversations with Commissioner Kerry and other CIAA or City officials.  Visits will be made between MLK week and the tournament.
·         Triangle Tribune
·         WRDC TV
·         Charlotte Post
·         WTVD TV
·         Triad Business News
·         Community TV Program
·         Public Access TV
·         Fayetteville Observer-Times
·         Jacksonville Daily  News
·         Richmond Times
·         Press kits will be sent out week of January 17th to top media contacts 
·         TV appearances from CIAA and City representatives on local area business and talk shows 
·         On-going, proactive press releases 
·         Proactive ‘thank you’ letter from CIAA to ESA Box Suite holders
·         Proactive national media relations: Code Magazine; Vibe Magazine and Vibe on-line; Ebony/Jet; Mad Rhythms; USA Today; Associated Press; Black Voices Magazine (out of Chicago) 


Over $1,500,000 worth of earned media exposure

CIAA 2000 Tournament – Sold Out

CIAA Fashion Show – Sold out

CIAA Vendor Pavilion – All vendor spaces sold

CIAA Step Show – Sold out

Verbal commitment from national sponsors (to be major sponsors in 2001)

Economic impact to host city –$8.3 MM – Exceeded Expectations


·         Generate extensive national media coverage for the CIAA and its tournament.  Targets are Black Enterprise, Code Magazine, Essence, Ebony, Jet, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine.
·         Make CIAA the leading, most innovative marketing conference in the Black College sports world.  This includes sponsor initiatives, extracurricular events (Tom Joyner, etc.), and fan and media hospitality.
·         Leverage the CIAA ‘brand’ into increased enrollment and tuition at CIAA schools.  Utilize bond monies (for North Carolina schools) into positive message marketing campaigns.
·         Expand the ‘reach of CIAA’.  Currently, as mentioned above, 80% of alumni live in North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland.  Through the acquisition of other schools – or through the consolidation of conferences – the CIAA is poised to be one of the most influential entities in the East.
·         Expand ticket-buying process of CIAA conference – similar to ACC.  I.e. a person must donate money (to the conference or individual schools) just for the opportunity to buy tickets to the tournament.  Or, just create enough demand so that ticket prices can be raised in conjunction with that demand.
·         Leverage image marketing and public relations into more expansive TV coverage.
·         Enhance other existing CIAA conference championships into viable sponsor and television properties.  Immediately make the football championship a profitable, stand-alone event.
·         Enhance CIAA-led special event opportunities (Bahamas Conch Bowl, etc.)
·         Pursue Raleigh/Durham as a permanent home for CIAA.
·         Secure five major national sponsors.