Department displays new style to fans with website

by Hannah Miller / Beacon Staff • September 15, 2016

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Screenshot of the new Emerson Lions web store.
Courtesy of Emerson Athletics
Screenshot of the new Emerson Lions web store.
Courtesy of Emerson Athletics

The Emerson College athletic department is going deep into its rebranding efforts. Its newest addition — an online store where Lions supporters can purchase gear ranging from customizable sweatshirts to stadium chairs.

The company BSN Sports, a factory distributor of team sports equipment and apparel, runs the site and handles the logistics involved. The school is tasked with providing input and ideas, but has the luxury of sitting back and watching the company provide products supporting the department, Matt Ulrich, director of media relations and game operations said.

Ulrich spearheaded the effort to get the site up and running.

“I hope people use it and find stuff on there that they like,” Ulrich said. “The main thing is that it’s a service to students, fans, [and] parents.”

BSN Sports is not only able to provide a range of gear, but also a variety of brands. With the option of brand names such as Nike, Majestic, and Sport-Tek, to name a few, the company can provide gear to those looking in all price ranges.

Pat Nicol, director of athletics, believes prices won’t prevent athletes from showing their pride.

“I see student athletes using it. Unfortunately the prices are a bit high, but it is an opportunity, it’s a service, that hopefully they choose to take advantage of,” Nicol said.

The prices range from around $20 for a t-shirt to approximately $100 for a Nike Shield Therma-Fit crew.

The department is able to help the company provide products they feel are best fitted for the Emerson community, Nicol said.

“We are open to suggestions if there are pieces of gear not on the site that people would like to see; not everything is available but we can talk with their merchandising,” Ulrich said. “We can always ask them and see what other things we can add if there is enough of a demand for it.”

Fara Cohen, an outside hitter on the women’s volleyball team, thinks the website will be a hit on campus.

“The fact that it is customizable is great because it is very hard to please everyone,” Cohen, a sophomore marketing communication major, said. “Everyone wants something different, someone might want a crew neck, somebody else wants a hoodie, they want pride, they want their sport on it, so this way they are giving people the freedom to choose for themselves.”

NCAA rules prevent the institution from providing free gear to student-athletes because Emerson is a Division III school. Many teams are provided with jackets, sweats, and warm-up outfits along with uniforms, but the department is required to keep inventory and receive all articles of clothing back at the end of the season.

“I wouldn’t underestimate the student-athlete because DIII rules prevent us from having student-athletes keep any apparel,” Nicol said. “They are always asking and unfortunately we have to say no because we are just not allowed to do it, so this is another avenue through which student-athletes can access Emerson gear within the NCAA guidelines.”

Cohen sees this amenity as a well-thought-out compromise to the DIII regulations.  

“I think the website is a good outlet and it’s a good solution,” Cohen said. “They’re not just ignoring us, we can see they are trying to provide us with a solution and they are giving people the option.”

At this time, none of the profits go to Emerson athletics. Ulrich said BSN Sports hasn’t upped the prices to any extent, in order to provide the products at the lowest price possible while breaking even on production costs.

Even though this isn’t the case now, the department hopes the site will be able to make the department a profit in the future.

“Down the road, if it becomes as successful as we hope, it could become an additional revenue stream, or any revenue stream for the department,” Nicol said. “That is one of our objectives, but our primary objective right now is to provide a service to our supporters and to enhance the brand of Emerson athletics.”