Ballpark Figures

University of North Texas Eyes Sponsoring Dallas Cowboys

The University of North Texas is exploring becoming an exclusive higher education partner with the Dallas Cowboys football team, an unusual deal that could include sponsorship opportunities and student internships.

 Khampha Bouaphanh
Ballpark Figures

Athletics continues to be a high-dollar enterprise for Texas colleges. The eight public Texas universities that play in the Football Bowl Subdivision — the top level of college football — spent more than $525 million on athletics in the 2014-15 school year. Football is consistently the top revenue-producing sport, followed by men’s basketball. This series looks at the finances of Texas universities’ athletic departments.

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The University of North Texas may soon become an exclusive higher education sponsor of the Dallas Cowboys football team, an unusual deal that would include sponsorship opportunities and provide student internships at the team's headquarters. 

The framework for such an arrangement is laid out in a memo included in the meeting agenda for the UNT System Board of Regents. The board is expected to meet this Thursday and Friday, where it will consider delegating authority to negotiate the details. 

No price tag has been made public, but the memo said that cost is expected to be of "sufficient size," to require the Board of Regents to sign off. According to UNT System rules, the board must approve of contracts worth $1 million or more. 

Read MoreCheck out the entire briefing memo describing the possible sponsorship deal

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According to the briefing material included in the meeting agenda, the agreement would allow UNT to call itself a "Proud Partner of the Dallas Cowboys." It would allow UNT to advertise at the team's AT&T Stadium in Arlington, plus its soon-to-open practice facility and team headquarters in Frisco. The university might also advertise on the radio during Cowboys games, on the team's website and on billboards.

UNT students may also get internships from the deal. The briefing proposed opportunities in "broadcast journalism, hospitality management, sports media and event management, and recreation events and sports management." It didn't mention how many internships would be provided. 

"Marketing, data analytics, digital retailing and information technology are among future student programs under discussion," the briefing reads. 

The agreement would last multiple years, though its exact length wasn't disclosed.

UNT, based in Denton, has just more than 36,000 students and, like several Texas schools, is trying to grow its status as a major research university. It recently opened an off-site instructional facility in Frisco designed to serve working professionals in the Collin County area. Officials said in the briefing that the sponsorship deal will help "expand overall awareness" of UNT and the Frisco sight in particular. 

Disclosure: The University of North Texas has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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