in Higher Ed

What solution is best for athletic web sites in higher ed?

More and more schools seem to be outsourcing their athletic web pages to third party companies because they’re either too much to handle, have too many special needs that aren’t serviced by the current content management system (CMS) or for some other reason like personal preference.

I have a pretty interesting relationship with sports sites, because as a former tennis player and would-be coach, I have a pretty good handle on the diversity of college athletics sites out there. I speak the language and understand what coaches want pretty well. I also take great care to make sure that sports information is presented and marketed well and to ensure it doesn’t fall through the cracks, because it’s an area where at some institutions, they don’t get a seat at the table when the sites are developed or planned out and that can cause major problems.

I think the real question of “outsourcing” versus “in-house” is an issue of the resources you have in-house, your ability to spend and what sorts of tools you need. I think if you’re looking at video and other needs that might degrade your on campus bandwidth, then an external host might be a good solution. This is also a good situation when you don’t have the technical staff to support all of the tools you need to update the web with sports information the way your SID, athletic director and coaches might want/need.

Recruiting is a big part of the athletic draw and it ultimately goes back to admission considerations, but integration is key. I think in an ideal world, keeping all of your content in-house is the best solution, when possible, but there can be some major advantages to third-party options that can be “made back” in the form of increased interest in athletic programs and an ability to reach out to students who would otherwise not consider your school.

How does your college or university handle its athletic web sites?

  1. We did our redesign in June 2006 and really struggled with Athletics. We finally outsourced the athletic site in the fall of that year and it has been a great solution especially because the company also has live streaming video of games. I agree best case you keep the content in house but you have to look at where you want/need to be spending your time and make the best decision for your school.

  2. I was the SID here at UC Riverside for seven years before moving over to the Web Development office. For my time there, 2000-2007, we ran the site from in-house because we simply didn’t have the budget to do otherwise. We were a two person shop and I built two separate sites from scratch with Dreamweaver. All the while, I pushed and encouraged the department and the university to outsource it. Shortly after I left the department, my new boss offered up seed money to allow athletics to outsource their site. The redesign should be up shortly and I am happy for them.

  3. we are an in-house dot-com (not dot-edu) of very recent. previously the site was a very amateurish looking site off the main url (dot-edu) but with the University’s site undergoing a complete redesign this past summer, athletics was given it’s own dot-com.

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