University of Colorado gets pro CMO

University of Colorado gets pro CMO

Steve’s breakdown: This CMO position is new to the university so expect big changes coming across the entire department. As for the new guy, he’s spent time with the New Orleans Hornets and the Orlando Magic.

BOULDER, CO: On frequent skiing trips, Matt Biggers pensively targeted a life in Colorado. But his crystal ball couldn’t tell him whether it would come in a career move or in a move toward retirement.

He’s not coming to the Rocky Mountains to retire – not just yet anyway.

Biggers has been hired by the University of Colorado to fill the newly created role of chief marketing officer, a position designed to enhance the athletic department’s operation on several fronts and provide additional direction as the school continues its transition into the Pac-12 Conference.

“We’re really pleased Matt has decided to join us,” CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn said. “He brings an immediate level of expertise in the areas of sales, branding and marketing and will add to the depth of our existing marketing initiatives.”

Bohn also expects the new CMO position to help “pull all of our external units together in a way that leverages our collective marketing assets” as well as “maximize revenue and the experience for our fan base.”

Biggers, 40, reports for work on July 5. He has spent the past 17 years in the NBA, working first with the Orlando Magic (1999-2007) before being hired by the New Orleans Hornets in 2007. He left Orlando as the director of marketing and joined the Hornets as vice president of marketing and communications.

In his second season with the Hornets, Biggers was promoted to senior vice president of marketing and communications, a position in which he oversaw the organization’s marketing, advertising, branding, creative services, events, game operations, media relations and broadcasting.

“He’s a seasoned professional coming out of the NBA,” Bohn said. “We’re excited to see what Matt can bring from professional sports to the collegiate marketplace.”

Bohn said Biggers’ duties at CU will include overseeing marketing and promotions, the ticket office, and BuffVision. Biggers also will collaborate in the staging of special events and with Buffalo Sports Properties (BSP) as well as with the CU Foundation, the school’s fund-raising arm.

Biggers called his new position and its varied responsibilities “an exciting opportunity for growth and personal challenge . . . I know I’m coming into a little different industry, but my hope is to bring experiences from (the NBA) and translate them to the college level.

“Some things will be different, but sometimes bringing experience from the outside can be beneficial. I come into this humble; I look at the ticket growth (in football and basketball) from the last few years and know this isn’t a broken brand. Hopefully, we can take it to the next level.”

Associate Athletic Director Jim Senter, who chaired the search committee for CU’s new CMO, said Biggers emerged from a “tremendous pool” of 140-plus applicants “from all over the country. This is a huge job and it was as thorough a search as I’ve ever been involved in.”

The chance to return to college sports – particularly in Colorado – “was too good to pass up . . . I’m a huge college sports fan,” Biggers said, adding that his sister-in-law is a CU graduate and she and her family live in Denver. On past skiing ventures to Colorado, he developed an attraction for the Denver/Boulder area and pegged it “as a place where I wanted to live.” He just didn’t know how or when it might come to pass, hoping the move would come with a paycheck attached but also eyeing the state as a possible post-career destination.

Biggers, who is married (Robyn) and has two daughters (Peyton 10, Avery 7), was born in Ohio but moved to Florida at age 3 with his family. He remained in the South for his higher education, earning a BS in Business Administration Management from Appalachian State University in May 1994 and a Masters of Science, Sport Management, from Georgia Southern University in December 1995.

His previous work in collegiate athletics includes serving as a student assistant coach for the Appalachian State baseball team and as vice president of that school’s men’s club volleyball team, volunteering in sports media relations at Georgia Southern, and working as an event assistant for the Florida Citrus Bowl.

Biggers also worked as an operations/marketing assistant for the Orlando Predators (Arena Football). And while in Orlando, he served on the board of the Florida Children’s Hospital and the Heart of Florida United Way Promotions Committee.

Biggers’ most demanding professional challenge undoubtedly came in “The Big Easy.” In his first year in New Orleans, the Hornets set a club record for their time in New Orleans for most sellouts in a season (2007-08), then broke that record the following season. But reaching and surpassing those marks wasn’t easy.

When the Hornets returned to New Orleans after a two-year displacement to Oklahoma City following Hurricane Katrina, the season ticket base was fewer than 5,000. Biggers spearheaded drives that took season ticket sales to over 10,000 in 2008-09 – the largest increase in the NBA. He received the “Coach of The Year” award in 2009, an acknowledgement from his senior executive NBA peers given to the organizational leader who best exemplifies his/her team’s mission and values.

Also under trying circumstances, the Hornets were challenged to reach the 10,000 season ticket mark again in 2011-12. The NBA was dealing with its work stoppage and the New Orleans franchise was seeking to secure local ownership, a long-term lease agreement with the state and was facing the imminent departure of star point guard Chris Paul to San Diego. Instrumental in that drive was the Biggers-led campaign “I’m In,” which included a “100 Events In 100 Days” initiative and proved to be a surprising success in the community.

At first glance, Biggers said he foresees more “tweaks” than an “overhaul” at CU and has no illusions of reshaping a college sports entity into a professional sports franchise. The question he has been most frequently asking himself is, “What can we do new and different and efficiently to get Folsom Field and the Coors Events Center sold out?

“I’m excited to work with the people there and try and help get them where they want to go. This is a great time in the school’s history. It’s a tremendous opportunity and I feel so fortunate that it presented itself.”


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