Coyote Athletics is filled with athletes that fans all recognize by name, whether it be Carson Camp, starting quarterback, or Hannah Sjerven, a finalist for the Becky Hammon Mid-Major women’s basketball Player of the Year. However, it’s the people behind the scenes that create the environment that truly allow these athletes to succeed and shine across all sports. Learfield IMG College’s Coyote Sports Properties (CSP) General Manager Travis Lee is the leader in marketing, advertising and promotional opportunities.
CSP presents the pageantry of college athletics aimed at making an impact on businesses by reaching Coyote fans throughout the state of South Dakota and the upper midwest, according to the CSP webpage.
Lee got his start with CSP after working as Director of Athletic Marketing and Promotions for USD athletics. He has served as general manager since 2011, when Learfield made an agreement with USD for multimedia marketing rights.
“My role now is primarily focused on generating revenue for the athletic department through corporate partnerships,” Lee said. “We develop customized marketing plans for a lot of area businesses, so basically we tried to connect local and regional businesses and their brands to promote their goods and services to a loyal fan base of KELO nation. And a big part of my job is building relationships, and then more importantly maintaining those relationships with our business partners.”
Lee’s job varies day to day depending on whether there are Coyote events happening or if he’s meeting with key stakeholders.
“You’ll see this site which tells about the signage in our facilities, primarily that of DakotaDome and the Sanford Coyote Sports Center,” Lee said. “We’re able to connect our partners to our radio broadcasts of many of our sports. We even control some of the inventory and the television broadcasts on Midco Sports Network. But really where the growth area is (is) the digital side, business ads are funneled through Salesforce properties. You’ll also see our corporate partners attached to several of our social media elements through the official count of athletic channels, as well as a lot of hospitality at football and basketball games where people get clients to get access to premium areas where there are opportunities for adult beverages and kind of premium food options.”
Lee said his favorite part of working with CSP is hosting gamedays, interacting with clients and fans, feeling the excitement of the atmosphere and showing them what being a Coyote means. However, taking partners to away games and giving them the VIP treatment is also a highlight for Lee.
“Last time we had a full season, we took some of our top clients for the game and Oklahoma and being able to give them the VIP treatment,” Lee said. “You know, I take folks to games, basketball games at Kansas and Duke, just really fun to see things on a grand scale and then be able to tell them ‘hey, we can do similar things for your business back in our domain.'”
Most recently, Lee traveled to San Antonio with the women’s basketball team to help radio broadcasting and marketing promote the team competing in the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament.
“One of my favorites is just the relationships I’ve built in a lot of those because of the longevity. I’ve been in this role for ten years, plus the two additional ones within athletics,” Lee said. “So that’s just the fun part… building and maintaining those relationships, and I think ultimately that leads to trust, which has been really great.”
When it comes to reaching fans digitally due to the pandemic, using digital channels is a key component of Lee’s position. There’s a lot of content being created by the athletic marketing and video team, leading the entire nation as far as engagement goes, Lee said.
“Features about players, coaches, and on our side we really try to create contests where fans can enter to win, whether it’s Coyote gear or trips to road games,” Lee said. “Finding ways to create interaction to the various social media channels. Just because there is so much content and people are starving for content, and part of that is because there weren’t games to attend for a long time, so they wanted to find ways to keep track of their favorite team.”