December 08, 2014
By: Danny Ecker
DeVry Education Group may not have an athletic program, but the for-profit school is claiming a major stake in baseball.
Aiming to replicate the success it has seen from a marketing partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee, the Downers Grove-based higher education company today will announce a three-year deal with Minor League Baseball that makes it the official education and career development partner of Major League Baseball's affiliate system.
addition to signage and promotion at all 160 minor league franchises
ranging from rookie leagues to AAA, the sponsorship will include 20
full-ride scholarships available to minor league players, staff, alumni
and other team and league employees, as well as reduced tuition for
interested players and their spouses.
Both DeVry and the governing body of minor league baseball declined to provide financial details of the contract.
new deal stands to facilitate academic degrees for the thousands of
players and employees involved with the MLB farm teams while also
exposing DeVry to roughly 42 million fans that attend minor league games
"These young men spend quite a bit of time focused
solely on their baseball career and getting ready for going to the big
leagues, but so few of them actually end up making it," said Amanda
Geist, DeVry's director of partnership marketing. "Our primary goal is
really to help them focus their academic and career goals and prepare
them for what comes next in their post-baseball careers."
the top minor league players are on fast tracks to the big leagues, many
minor league players are drafted directly out of high school or before
completing their college degree.
That represents hundreds of
potential DeVry students each year but also provides a promotional tool.
Much of the school's marketing has spotlighted successful case studies showing people balancing work and higher education to earn degrees.
want prospective and current students to see themselves in these
athletes and say, 'if (that) athlete can balance training and going to
college, I can balance working full-time and going to school," said
Geist. "It's really about helping athletes focus on what comes next and
using those stories to inspire people to go back to school."
previously had sponsored individual teams like the NFL's Jacksonville
Jaguars, the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers and two Major League Soccer teams,
but it ditched the strategy a few years ago to redirect marketing
dollars toward more national partnerships.
Aside from providing
wide-ranging exposure, the deal with Minor League Baseball also may help
prospective students look at DeVry in a new light, said Jim Andrews,
senior vice president at Chicago-based sponsorship consulting firm IEG.
always that issue of their reputation--people out there that rightly or
wrongly see (for-profit education schools) as diploma mills," he said.
"Tying in a very popular community activity with minor league teams—it's
a good connection for them to make. It makes people like the brand a
little bit more and feel a little bit more positive about them."
Minor League Baseball officials approached DeVry about the
partnership this year after seeing its success with Team USA Olympic
A DeVry-USOC sponsorship signed before the 2012 Summer
Olympics set up a similar program for athletes to earn degrees while
training and competing full-time. The partnership started with six
Olympic athletes and has grown to about 200 enrolled today, including
American gold medalist bobsledder Steven Holcomb, who was featured in DeVry ads during the games.
League Baseball Chief Marketing Officer Michael Hand said DeVry's
education platforms met a need for many players, noting that it
typically takes a player six or seven years to reach the major
leagues--if they make it at all. Many now have the option to take
classes online or at a local DeVry campus.
"Everyone in Minor
League Baseball is trying to work to build themselves, and in many cases
trying to get to the next level," Hand said. "We thought (a sponsor
for) continuing education was a great complement to the lifestyle of the
folks that work in the game."
DeVry is one of a handful of new
partners that have signed on with the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based
governing body of the MLB farm system, marking a shift in Hand's
strategy toward leveraging its national reach through sponsorship deals
that include all of its teams. Minor league team sponsorships
historically have been local—like car dealerships and local
banks—because of the community nature of the franchises.
teaming with a higher education company that touts more than 48,000
students on 80 campuses across 25 U.S. states also helps the league
reach a valuable database of potential new fans.
"We like the idea
that DeVry, in a non-traditional education setting, doesn't have a
school team to go root for," Hand said. "We're optimistic they'll
embrace one of the teams in one of our markets."
DeVry is one of many for-profit education hubs that has been battling
weak enrollment in recent years. Annual revenue fell by 2 percent in the
year ended June 30 to $1.9 billion; its stock price surged by 40
percent since the start of 2014 to around $48 a share.
Direct link to article: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20141208/BLOGS04/141209795/devry-looks-to-score-with-new-minor-league-baseball-deal