[Commentary] Brand New TSU: How to Revive the Tiger Brand

Brand New TSU: How to Revive the Tiger Brand
by Joshua Jones, TSU c/o 2002 | 28th & Jefferson

TSU’s athletics is known for its remarkable past. Anchored by Olympic legends, a ton of NFL talent and NBA mainstays, the Tiger brand was nothing short of legendary, considering the social and economic restrictions that the school faced during its ‘glory days’ in the latter-half of the 20th century.

Over the past decade, TSU’s athletic program has fallen on hard times. Losing teams coupled with NCAA violations, constant coaching changes and an athletic department that seems not to ‘get it,’ have all brought the once mighty Tigers back down to earth.

These setbacks have damaged the brand. The lack of synergy between the school, its sports offerings and the community have all but wiped TSU out of the index of the local community. Ask any person under the age of 30 in Middle Tennessee about TSU sports, and you are sure to receive a luke-warm response.

Fast-forward to 2012; while the brand may be damaged, it’s still viable. Here is how the school and the TSU community can help revive the Tiger brand:

1.) The Product – With the 2011-2012 men’s basketball team making the post-season for the first time since 1994, and with the 2012 football team posting an 8-3 record, the school is primed for a return to the national scene. Production on the field will only increase with the strength of the brand, which will lead to better coaches, better players committing and better D-1 competition looking to play a quality opponent.

2.) Emotional Core – The TSU community has to bring back the excitement of TSU athletics. The Gentry Center and Hale Stadium, as well as LP Field, should be some of the toughest places to play in the OVC, if not the country. Support can only be shown through game attendance and crown participation in all sporting events, not just the popular classic games.

3.) Values Connection – TSU athletics must place emphasis in the community that surrounds the school by a) allowing athletes to participate in community-centered functions. They, too, must become apart of the Nashville community by becoming ambassadors of the school and being an extension of the good work that TSU constantly produces.

4.) Investment – The school must look at branding the athletics program as an investment. A few local AM radio spots during the football and basketball seasons will not promote the fullness to the program. With a targeted marketing campaign that tells the community that the Tigers are now back on solid footing, will pay dividends on the backend with ticket and merchandise sales, as well as renewed support, that will last longer than the current academic calendar.

5.) Media Network – TSU needs to lay the foundation of its very own media network, where the school can control how and where the athletic contests are seen.
TSU must think outside of the conference and look to establish internet partnerships that will broadcast games and allow TSU to increase ad revenue for the program.

With a new administration coming to Tennessee State, the time is perfect to re-tool the direction of the athletic department. The Tigers are one of the best representatives of Tennessee State University and when they are winning on and off of the field, the entire school wins through increased revenue streams, a loyal fan base and an extra hand in recruiting the best and brightest students in the world.


Joshua Jones is a marketing/ communications professional based in Orlando, Florida. In his spare time, he is a freelance journalist for publications throughout the Southeast. Currently, Joshua is working on starting his own company and bringing a great service to the people of Central Florida.  He is a 2002 graduate from Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in Communications/Marketing.


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