By Bob DiCesare
UB athletics addressed what its rebranding vision seemed to lack Thursday by announcing the creation of an advisory board to assist in what’s being called the “New York Bulls Initiative.”
The 16-member board consists of local business leaders and/or alumni and refutes any notion that the rebranding initiative launched by athletics director Danny White had encountered major resistance within the community. The board includes chairman Pete Augustine, president of New Era; Russ Brandon, president and chief operating officer of the Buffalo Bills, and Jerry Jacobs, principal, Delaware North.
The group has been created to “provide strategic guidance to the UB Athletics leadership team” and help increase the relevance of UB athletics both locally and on a national level. White has said often since he was hired in May of 2012 that UB has limitless potential as the only public research institution in the Association of American Universities with athletic teams playing outside a BCS automatic-qualifier conference.
“It’s about our whole push we’re trying to do to bring this place to big-time college athletics,” White told The News. “We’re launching our official movement that hasn’t been that quiet. It’s about fundraising, it’s about media partnerships, it’s about things we’ve been working on already. What we’re really trying to do is create some national buzz and let people know that this place has untapped potential.”
UB recently secured a media presence on New York City-area radio, something White feels is important in reaching out to UB’s many downstate alums. Ticket pledges already are being solicited for the East Club, a premium seating section envisioned for UB Stadium. The hope is that galvanizing the alumni base and the Western New York community will heighten involvement and interest in UB athletics and create revenue streams that fund various projects, particularly those that are facility-related . For instance, UB has long talked of becoming the equal of most other Mid-American Conference schools by building a field house that would facilitate, among other things, indoor football practices.
The rebranding initiative is already visible on the basketball court and the football field, both of which now contain the words New York. The state name also is on football coaches' shirts and player jerseys and presumably will be incorporated into the basketball uniforms.
“The board is energized by the vision of UB athletics to elevate the profile of its programs to match the university’s high academic standards and to bring the message of pride to the many alumni that live across the state” Augustine said in a UB athletics news release. “Engaging that extensive network of alumni and partnering with key businesses locally and nationally will be a key to this initiative gaining momentum.”
Other members of the board are:
Kevin Brinkworth, real estate developer; Mark Czarnecki, president, M&T Bank; Greg D’Alba, president, CNN News Networks and Turner Digital Sales and Marketing; Bob Denning, president and CEO, Perry’s Ice Cream; Doug Dimitroff, partner, Phillips Lytle LLP; Colleen DiPirro, president and CEO, Amherst Chamber of Commerce.
Mike Joseph, president, Clover Management Inc; Francis Letro, partner, Francis M. Letro Attorneys at Law; Jordan Levy, managing partner, Softbank Capital New York; Gerry Matalon, senior coordinating producer, ESPN; Bob Morris, chairman, HAGIN Investment Management; Larry Quinn, former managing partner, Buffalo Sabres, and Steve Ulmer, president and CEO, Davis-Ulmer Sprinkler Company Inc.
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