Illinois Athletics and SIDEARM Sports Announce New Multi-year Digital Partnership
FIGHTINGILLINI.COM to relaunch in July 2015 with new look, strategic content
Champaign, Illinois – University of Illinois Athletics has selected SIDEARM Sports to provide the technological backbone for its official website, www.FIGHTINGILLINI.com, as announced today by Director of Athletics Mike Thomas. The multiyear agreement includes a complete redesign featuring a high-quality photo viewer and video player, free to user audio and video premium content, as well as providing an optimized experience for smartphone and tablet users. The official date for the relaunch will be July 1, 2015.
The Fighting Illini’s completely revamped website will feature fan-focused features as event ticketing, one of a kind auctions, officially licensed merchandise, behind-the-scenes photos, stories and interviews, along with unprecedented integration with over a dozen different social media partners domestically and internationally.
More features will be announced in the months to come as design on the new site is currently underway.
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mike Thomas says that the impact of this partnership will not only be experienced by Illinois fans, but also the target market for the site, which is prospective student-athletes.
“Maximizing the recruiting impact of our digital platforms is critical to what we do on a daily basis,” Thomas said. “Our web site, social media outlets and original video content is truly global in reach, and impacts our recruiting process in a major way. Having the opportunity to work with Jeff Rubin and the SIDEARM team will help lift FIGHTINGILLINI.com to serve our viewers like we have not done before and will be a tremendous asset to our 21 Fighting Illini teams and Illini Nation.”
SIDEARM Sports, a leader in collegiate athletic web solutions, prides itself on innovative technology and progressive, user-friendly design. The University of Illinois marks SIDEARM’S fourth institution to represent from a Power Five Conference (joining Kansas, Syracuse and Texas), and its first from the Big Ten Conference. SIDEARM Sports was acquired seven months ago by Learfield Sports, the multimedia rights holder for Illini Athletics.
“This is a big day for SIDEARM Sports, and we’re thrilled to welcome the Fighting Illini into the SIDEARM family,” said CEO Jeff Rubin. “When Learfield Sports acquired SIDEARM, we knew it would lead to big opportunities and because of our tremendous staff who develop, design and service our software, we were able to capitalize on this opportunity. We also credit our current school partners as our success would be not possible without their ongoing support.”
Senior Associate Director of Athletics for External Relations Mike Waddell adds that the new design will be paced by a more consistent stream of daily original content and will have a targeted focus towards domestic and international recruiting.
“Heading into the 2015-16 academic year we’re changing the way that we manage and distribute our original content across the #ILLINI digital platforms,” Waddell said. “Our focus will be on the high quality video that is produced by Fighting Illini Productions, along with exclusive photos and custom #ILLINIgraphics that will showcase the great things happening on campus and with our athletics program. This site will be a great recruiting advantage for our head coaches, and our fans here in the United States and around the world will enjoy the new user experiences from day one. Technology is a hallmark of our campus and with the proactive leadership of SIDEARM, this site will be on the cutting edge at all times.”
According to Learfield Sports’ Chief Content Officer Joe Ferreira, SIDEARM Sports already has proven to be an integral component of the Learfield family.
“We’re proud to represent the Fighting Illini brand via our multimedia partnership, and everything this incredible university stands for,” Ferreira said. “SIDEARM’s digital capabilities, expertise and outstanding services are best in class, giving us great comfort in connecting Jeff and his team to the Illini athletic administration to see if they might be a good fit for the university moving forward.”
SIDEARM Sports provides the software and technology that powers websites, mobile applications, live stats, social presence and video streaming for more than 750 colleges and universities across North America. Notable clients include University of Texas, University of Kansas and Syracuse University, as well as the American Athletic Conference, the Sun Belt Conference and the Southland Conference. Learfield Sports boasts a rich history in collegiate athletics and manages the multimedia rights for nearly 100 college properties nationwide. For more information, visit www.sidearmsports.com or www.learfieldsports.com.
The University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics sponsors 21 varsity teams and is a charter member of both the nation’s premier league, the Big Ten Conference, and the National Collegiate Athletics Association. Since its inception as an athletics department in 1890, the Fighting Illini have won 20 NCAA Championships, five football national championships and 241 Big Ten Titles. Fighting Illini athletes have won 27 Olympic medals while competing for 14 countries in 24 Olympics. Notable University of Illinois athletics alumni include Harold “Red” Grange, Dick Butkus, Mannie Jackson, Lou Boudreau, George Halas and Jerry Colangelo.