Competitive Edge - Sports & Entertainment Marketing News

NCAA Corporate Champions and Partners (Activity Suggestion)


The NCAA Corporate Champions and Partners Program, first introduced in 1984, is dedicated to excellence and committed to developing marketing and promotional activities surrounding NCAA championships. Some of America’s top corporations comprise the program and emphasize the role of athletics and academics in our society by supporting NCAA youth programs, student-athlete awards and honors, and scholarship initiatives.

Click here to view a link highlighting this year’s NCAA Corporate Champions and Partners at

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is sponsorship?
  2. What are NCAA Corporate “Champions and Partners”?
  3. What do you think might be the difference between a Champion and Partner?
  4. What is a sponsorship “package”?
  5. What rights do you think being a NCAA sponsor provides these brands from a marketing perspective during March Madness?
  6. One of the places you might see a NCAA sponsor’s logo is on the court during game products. What is this called?
  7. Why might a sponsor want to include signage in their sponsorship package?
  8. What is sponsorship activation?
  9. Why is activation important?
  10. What are some ways that NCAA Corporate Champions and Partners might activate their sponsorship during March Madness?
  11. Do you think a brand that is not a NCAA sponsor can use the term “March Madness” in any of their marketing? Why or why not?
  12. What could a non-sponsoring brand do to align its products or services with the NCAA tournament without paying for sponsorship rights?
  13. How might that represent an example of ambush marketing?
  14. Is ambush marketing legal?
  15. Is it ethical? Why or why not?

Activity Suggestion:

Consider an activity to help students understand why a brand would want to sponsor the NCAA Tournament (men’s, women’s, or both). By tracking how often they see a sponsor, we can help them to recognize the importance of visibility (impressions). By tracking where they see the sponsor, we can help teach concepts of sponsorship packages and activation. If you want to add an additional wrinkle, ask them to try to identify an example of ambush marketing when a non-sponsoring brand attempts to align with March Madness without the rights as an official sponsor.

  1. Have students work individually or in pairs.
  2. Ask them to review and make a note of all the NCAA Corporate Champions and Partners before the games begin. In class, discuss how each might benefit from sponsoring March Madness.
  3. Once the games begin, ask students to list every sponsor logo they see, whether during the game as arena signage, on the broadcast, or in commercials.
  4. Track those results either throughout the opening weekend (Thur-Sun) or the entire tournament, noting where you saw the logo (like on the court) and how many times you saw the logo.
  5. After the weekend (or tournament), tally the results to see which sponsors were most visible.
  6. Ask students to pick one NCAA sponsor and describe any observed activation strategies from that brand.
Chris Lindauer
After working for nearly a decade in professional sports, Chris Lindauer, formed Sports Career Consulting to provide unique sports business education opportunities in and out of the classroom. In the eighteen years (and counting) that followed, Chris has inspired thousands of students to pursue their passions and explore the career of their dreams. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, two teenage daughters and their dog.


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