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Invest in your facilities...using James Franklin's secret weapon


Nearly every university in the country is seeking to increase revenue. The vast majority of revenue on any college campus comes from enrollment. Thus, easiest way to increase revenue is to attract more students. Unfortunately, that's easier said then done. 

Most teenagers' first opportunity to see a campus comes either in person or on television (or even on the internet these days) in connection with a live sporting event; more often than not a football game. In more ways than one, college football is a huge driver for enrollment and few understand that better than university presidents and athletic directors.

Over the past 5 years (and we suspect this trend will continue) we have seen a massive investment in upgrading athletic facilities as colleges and universities have recognized there importance in generating long-term revenue growth for the university as a whole. We see quotes nearly every week from a university president crediting success in athletics with being a major driver university enrollment (and revenue) as a whole. 

Around the country colleges and universities are investing hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading their facilities to appeal to prospective students and the smart ones are highlighting what differentiates themselves from the competition (and make no mistake, universities are competing for all students, not just student athletes). 

Last month we toured nine of the Pac-12 universities and got an inside look at each university's facilities. The amount of investment ongoing out there is truly remarkable. Without exception, each of the nine programs we visited were either in the middle of a major construction project or were in the planning phases of one...and the three that we didn't make it to are all doing the same. Truly the Pac-12 is building for the future; much like many universities in the SEC have done over the last decade. 

The new on campus facility that USC is finishing up (completion is on target for late July) is truly going to be one of the nicest in the country. Although they are still putting the finishing touches on the facility; the walk through we did, combined with the renderings and the videos we saw of the finished product blew us away. There are creative ideas that USC is implementing that we haven't seen anywhere else in the country. We asked USC senior associate athletic director Mark Jackson how they came up with the creative vision for the new facility and he told us that he and athletic director Pat Haden had toured a large number of other facilities in the country and had met with a number of firms about working on the project. In the end, USC hired a company out of Nashville, Advent, to serve as "lead environmental graphics designer" for the project.

We were already familiar with Advent as we had seen their work on Auburn's indoor facility, in Vanderbilt's new locker room and at Mississippi State; but we didn't realize they worked all over the country. 

Jackson told us, "Advent's creativity and energy for the project was evident from the start. They have a passion for story-telling and will insure that the walk-path for USC student-athletes, recruits and donors is unlike anything in the country. We wanted our displays to be cutting-edge and impacting while also capturing our unparalleled history and success across all 21 of our sports. While the project is still ongoing I'm very confident Advent is going to deliver on all fronts."

Recently we spoke with John Roberson, CEO of Advent, about their business and we came away very impressed. Advent works with colleges and universities across the country on programs in athletics and in academics. Roberson, in fact, had just attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new student center at Texas A&M. We asked Roberson how the company has been so successful in what is truly a competitive design market and what we heard made so much sense...Roberson told us that their staff spends nearly all of their time on campuses across the country listening to what their clients want and then bringing their ideas to life, "We help our clients differentiate themselves." Roberson says that in order to be successful their designs have to appeal to prospective students; while at the same time evoke a sense of pride and enthusiasm from employees, administration, donors and alumni. 

At FootballScoop we like to inform coaches and administrators across the country about great companies. While doing our research for this article we reached out to Mississippi State's athletic director Scott Stricklin and Vanderbilt's head football coach James Franklin for their perspective on working with Advent. Pretty good feedback...

We spoke with Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin about their experiences working with Advent and Stricklin was quick to rave about them, referring to them as, "Mississippi State's creative / graphics firm of choice". Stricklin added that the Advent staff "Truly goes out of their way to fully understand what we're trying to do." Stricklin added that they are currently working on another project for State as we speak. 

Vanderbilt head football coach James Franklin told us, "Ever since I was hired at Vanderbilt, Advent has been by our side helping us tell our story, infusing our vision throughout our facilities and bringing it/them to life. Advent listens, interprets and responds to our ideas extremely well. Advent realizes the emotional impact design can have on our entire program. Great facilities, coupled with outstanding environmental graphics, sends an important message to all of our fans, current student-athletes, staff members and recruits that they matter. I wish Advent only worked for us…they could be our secret weapon!"

Below are some pictures of some of the work that Advent has done for their clients. Visit Advent's website to learn more about projects they have completed, or to simply be inspired.

Once USC's facility is open we'll bring you pictures from there as well; trust us, the place is impressive.