Communications, Marketing & Promotions

Reviewed 04/24

The Department of Athletics highlights the athletic and academic achievements of student-athletes and provides timely and in-depth athletics-related information to members of the UNC community and the media via social media, television and internet productions, newsletters and emails, the GoHeels.com website, video boards, news conferences, interviews, and advertisements.  

13.0 Athletic Communications, Creative Services, GoHeels Productions, Marketing & Promotions

Athletic Communications, Creative Services and Go Heels Productions serve as the storytelling arm of the Department of Athletics, and along with the Marketing unit promotes each of Carolina’s 28 intercollegiate teams as well as the Department as a whole.  

13.1 Department of Athletics Marketing and Promotions

The Marketing unit utilizes UNC’s brand to promote its 28 intercollegiate teams, helps increase ticket sales and works with sponsors for the Department of Athletics. Its efforts include sports marketing, campus engagement, and building attendance and interest. The unit coordinates a number of initiatives that provide direct impact to student-athletes, non-athlete students, faculty and staff, including overseeing Carolina Fever, a free student-fan program; overseeing the Cheerleading squad; working with the band; and working with outside partners to promote the fan experience in order to draw fans to support student-athletes and teams. The unit also works closely with the department’s Director of Digital Marketing, who produces the “This Week in Carolina Athletics” newsletter as well as ticket and marketing emails to fans. 

UNC Trademark Licensing is managed by UNC Auxiliary Services and a Department of Athletics liaison. Since 2005-06, 100 percent of UNC Trademark Licensing revenue goes to non-athlete student scholarships for UNC students. Of these scholarships, about 75 percent are need-based and 25 percent are merit-based.   

13.2 Athletics Creative Services and Communications

The Creative Services and Communications units highlight the athletic, academic and personal achievements of student-athletes and provide timely athletics-related information to members of the UNC community, national audience and the media. Along with Go Heels Productions, these units serve as the information-sharing and storytelling arm of the Department of Athletics and use a number of media platforms— including print, social media (i.e., UNC basketball’s X account has one of the highest followings of any college basketball team in the country), and website (goheels.com) – to share information in numerous ways, including videos, graphics, photos, written stories, news releases, news conference and advertisements.   

Athletic Communications has approximately 12 full-time employees and is organized around UNC’s 28 intercollegiate teams. An Athletic Communications contact for each team serves as its media and public relations contact and reports on student-athletes’ activities and accomplishments in competition and in the classroom via multiple platforms. Athletic Communications also serves as the public relations contact for the Department of Athletics, and as Carolina’s source of athletics information to entities outside of the University. The Communications contacts also promote student-athletes for conference, regional and national awards. A Web Director also oversees GoHeels.com, one of the most widely-viewed college websites in the country.  

Creative Services consists of approximately 10 full- time and temporary employees, including videographers, graphics designers, photographers and a Director of Social Media. They are assigned across all 28 sports to produce stories and promote our teams and student-athletes. 

From its beginnings, Athletic Communications has been at the forefront of college athletics promotion through internet and social media. UNC was first to hire additional writers to generate online content specifically for its athletics website. Over the past five years, the Department has created and grown the Creative Services unit in order to innovate its storytelling approach with more graphics and videos for social media

Athletic Communications and Creative Services produce stories, information and reports on a variety of athletics topics, including student-athletes’ achievements in athletic competitions (e.g. Field Hockey’s 11th National Championship, Aranza Vazquez’s becomes the first University of North Carolina Diver to win a National Championship); student-athletes’ outstanding achievements in the classroom (Seven teams post perfect multi-year academic progress rate, Carolina honors Athletic Director’s scholar-athletes ) and involvement in the community (Tar Heels celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day ). The units also produce content about student-athlete alumni and their continued connections with UNC (Julius Peppers named to College Football Hall of Fame, Carolina alumna and former student-athlete named head softball coach, Former UNC National Campion named schools head wrestling coach) departmental initiatives and projects such as the RAMMYs and Tar Heel Trailblazers, as well as keeping GoHeels.com as the ultimate resource for news and updates for the department and all of Carolina’s 28 sports programs.    

Athletic Communications and Creative Services work closely with the University’s Communications and Public Affairs office to share information and content. 

There are numerous sources of college athletics information—those officially affiliated with universities (e.g., goheels.com) and those entirely unaffiliated (e.g., insidecarolina.com). National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules prevent Athletic Communications from posting any recruiting-related news or information on its website or social media. NCAA and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) rules restrict Athletic Communications from sharing identifiable information about student-athletes.  GoHeels.com does not include message boards for visitors.   

13.3 Go Heels Productions

Go Heels Productions is responsible for producing games and content for television, podcasts and other audio and video content for social media and the web, and content for video boards and game day elements at our Athletics venues. The unit has approximately 14 full-time employees as well as dozens of contractors and student workers.  

Since the ACC and ESPN jointly announced the launch of the ACC Network on July 21, 2016, Carolina has been a leader in the ACC and college athletics in campus-based athletics broadcast production. Go Heels Productions has produced hundreds of broadcasts of Carolina Athletics events since the network was announced, and since the launch of the linear network in 2019, Carolina has produced as many broadcasts for linear television as any other school in the conference. In addition to quantity, Carolina has been recognized by the ACC Network and ESPN staff as producing among the highest quality in the conference.    

In addition to providing coverage of Carolina’s student-athletes and sports programs, Go Heels Productions also provides fantastic learning opportunities for Carolina students. Through the Go Heels Productions student program and partnerships with the Hussman School of Journalism and Media and the Department of Exercise and Sports Science, Tar Heel students have the opportunity to work hands-on in sports broadcasting.   

13.4 Celebrating and Communicating the Academic Achievements of Student-Athletes

(see also Process 7.10 Academic Support for Student Athletes 

The ASPSA celebrates student-athlete academic recognition on the ASPSA website. The Department of Athletics shares timely news regarding student-athletes’ academic achievements via GoHeels.com, social media, video productions and news releases.  

Athletics also highlights student-athletes’ academic achievements by recognizing student-athletes who earn ACC Honor Roll status and are named to Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and NCAA Academic All-American teams.  

Student-Athlete Development and ASPSA also run X accounts — @UNC_SADev and @UNC_ASPSA – that share timely news and stories about student-athletes’ academic, community and leadership achievements.  

13.4.1 Student-Athlete Academic Awards and Scholarships

The Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA) and the Department of Athletics honor elite scholar athletes at its annual Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet. This recognition is separate from the Department of Athletics’ Rammy Awards and Carolina Leadership Academic Recognition Banquet. An annual dinner is also held to celebrate the men’s and women’s teams with the highest academic performance and is another event centered around celebrating academic success and fellowship across sports.   

The Scholar-Athlete Awards Committee is chaired by a staff member in the ASPSA and includes members of the Department of Athletics, the ASPSA and the Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR). The committee identifies and nominates outstanding student-athletes for numerous academic awards, scholarships and internships, both internal and external to UNC, including:   

  • 1A FAR Academic Excellence Award   
  • ACC Academic Honor Roll   
  • ACC Futures Internship Program   
  • ACC Jim Tatum Award   
  • ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award   
  • ACC Weaver-James-Corrigan-Swofford Postgraduate Scholarships   
  • ACC Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway Scholarship  
  • All-ACC Academic Teams   
  • Athletic Director’s Scholar-Athletes   
  • Chancellors Award – Jim Tatum Memorial Award   
  • Chi Alpha Sigma National Honor Society   
  • Chi Alpha Sigma Postgraduate Scholarship   
  • Diverse Issues In Higher Education – Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award 
  • Golden Fleece   
  • NCAA Elite 90   
  • NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships   
  • NCAA Today’s Top 10   
  • NCAA Woman of the Year  
  • Phi Beta Kappa   
  • Tar Heel Scholar-Athletes   
  • Top Ten Scholar-Athletes   
  • Wells Fargo Postgraduate Scholarship