Harris aims to increase WKU fan base as new assistant director of athletic marketing

Thomas Harris

Elliott Pratt

Thomas Harris has been named the new assistant director of athletic marketing at WKU.

Harris, a Louisville native, previously spent the last five years as a student worker and intern with WKU athletic marketing. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 2011 and his master’s degree in 2012 from WKU.

“I’m excited about it,” Harris said. “It truly shows that hard work pays off and people will remain loyal to you as long as you work hard. I’m excited to get started with some new projects that I’m in charge of and it’s good to be with WKU at this time.”

Expanding the WKU fan base is a challenge the athletic marketing department has tried to tackle in recent years. Harris’s contributions and desire to expanding the fan base is one of the reasons he was the right fit for the job, said assistant athletic director of marketing Lindsay Boyden.

“Thomas Harris will specifically work with student organizations and engaging students and really tapping into that fan base that I feel like we really need to do a few more things with,” Boyden said. “He’s a vital part of what we do and has been with us for the last five years as a student-worker and an intern and it’s awesome to reward him with a full-time job for all that he’s done with us in the past.”

Harris’s resume shows he can grow participation with WKU athletics. Harris increased the Big Red’s Rascals Kids Club membership by 38 percent last year.  He has also helped increase followers with WKU’s social media outlets. In 2012, Harris received the President’s Award for Diversity Enhancement and is an active member of National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACMA), and the Bowling Green Professional Marketing Association.

WKU athletic director Todd Stewart said in order for the fan base to grow the athletic and marketing departments must get out of their comfort zone and reach out consistently.

“Ultimately, if we’re going to sell out our venues on a regular basis, we’ve got to grow our fan base outside of Bowling Green,” Stewart said. “We’ve got to hit areas like Owensboro and Nashville and (Elizabethtown) and Glasgow, where we’ve got a large alumni base and interact with them and grow those areas.”

Boyden said people will see the department engage with fans and students in many new ways this year. Harris said he has some ideas in mind.

“One of the big things I want to try to get into this year is create a relationship with the players and the students,” Harris said. “I’m going to try to meet with a few players and try to get them to realize how important it is to connect with students on a personal level, whether it be tweeting out ‘Hey, I’m going to the library to study Spanish, anybody want to join me?’. Those types of things I think will build up a trust and liking from students and will bring them to games and also have them bring their friends to games.”

The marketing department upped the ante with their game day promotions at the Red and White spring game with tickets given away to see Beyonce and four tickets and a hotel room for the WKU versus Kentucky football game in Nashville.

“We had a lot of people contact our office wanting to know how to get into those drawings, and people were really excited,” Harris said. “That’s definitely a direction that we’ll go into in trying to up the anti on some of the prizes we give.”

Harris said his hard work and ability to act on things is what will make him successful in achieving the goal of increasing the WKU athletic fan base.

“A lot of people can talk about things and make marketing plans, but I think the follow through is pretty much what has gotten me to where I am now,” Harris said. “I believe that whatever plans I put on paper I’m going to follow through and execute them.

“I think we’re going to have a good return on the investment this department has made in me.”