UT basketball game in China expected to expand Longhorn brand

Leila Ruiz

With the UT men’s basketball team scheduled to head overseas to play a regular season game in China in 2015 against the University of Washington, UT officials said they hope to strengthen and expand UT’s global brand. 

The game, which was announced Saturday, will be the first regular season basketball game to be held in the country for any U.S. collegiate or professional team. UT men’s head athletic director Steve Patterson, a proponent of Pac-12’s Globalization Initiative to promote goodwill and cultural exchange, said he sees the game as an opportunity for expansion and strengthening of the Longhorn brand.

“We have national advertising and marketing programs through the Longhorn Network and other broadcast and digital outlets, but we are excited about initiatives like the China game, as it provides a high profile way to showcase the UT brand and our long-standing global philosophy,” said Kathleen Mabley, director of brand marketing and creative services for the University. 

The decision to hold a game overseas comes as the National Basketball Association hosts its current season with 10 games played overseas in eight different countries, the most international games played in one season in NBA history. China specifically is a target for marketing basketball, as it is the NBA’s second largest market outside of the U.S., according to an article in The New Yorker.

Asian studies professor Chiu-Mi Lai said basketball was the first major professional sport to target the Chinese market. According to Lai, international players, such as former Houston Rockets player Yao Ming, as well as popular March Madness tournament brackets, have helped to increase that popularity. Lai said he believes the excitement for the game overseas will be infectious, as there is a large demographic of Chinese and Taiwanese UT alumni and students in China. 

“The UT name is well-known, and having a degree from UT is well-regarded [in China],” Lai said. “Having a strong brand in China is not only good business sense but important to increase one’s global presence.” 

Carleton Teel, finance junior and UT basketball fan, said he thinks the game is an interesting and highly beneficial step toward increasing UT’s overall brand around the world. 

“There’s no doubt — if you go around places now — everyone knows what ‘hook ’em’ is around China,” Teel said. “It’ll prompt people to do more research on UT as a whole — not just athletics.”

The game will be broadcast on ESPN and is tentatively scheduled for 11 a.m. in Beijing on Nov. 14, 2015, or 9 p.m. in Austin on Nov. 13, 2015.