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The NCAA Has Approved On-Field Football Ads. Will Tennessee Use Them in 2024?

Tennessee Football’s Neyland Stadium. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

The NCAA’s newest decision could allow for some major changes to college football fields across the nation.

The organization announced on Thursday the approval of commercial sponsor advertisements on football fields for regular season games starting this upcoming season.

The advertisements can be placed in three locations on the field: “A single advertisement centered on the 50-yard line is allowed in addition to no more than two smaller flanking advertisements elsewhere on the field. This could be done on a game-by-game basis or for the whole season.”

“This change allows schools to generate additional income to support student-athletes,” NCAA President Charlie Baker said in a statement on Thursday. “I’m pleased that we could find flexibility within our rules to make this happen for member schools.”

While the move will certainly ruffle the feathers of some fans, it honestly seems like a long-overdue move that the NCAA might have been expected to make years ago with the money that will be brought in. Advertisements are already scattered around a college football field including the scoreboard, the field walls, programs, and concession stands, so why not take it one step further to the field?

American sports of basketball, football, and baseball don’t do jersey advertisements to the same degree as soccer teams both in the States and abroad, but there has been an uptick in the use of smaller jersey advertisements in the last few seasons. The NBA adopted a patch sponsorship before the 2017 season while MLB did the same before the 2023 season. MLS, meanwhile, has been using full jersey ads since 2007.

There are also advertisements on other sporting surfaces and it doesn’t seem like too many people are upset by that. While watching the Knoxville Super Regional this weekend, you might see advertisements on a video board behind home plate. The SEC even used an advertising graphic behind home plate during the SEC Tournament.

While watching the NBA playoffs this year, there’s a good chance you’ve already seen advertisements placed on courts in the corners. So while it may be a divisive decision, it’s not unprecedented in the sports world.

More from RTI: Buckle Up, The Full 2024 College Football Playoffs Schedule is Officially Set

Will Tennessee make use of this trend on Shields-Watkins Field this season?

Obviously, it’s hard to say considering the announcement was made less than 24 hours before this post. But Athletic Director Danny White and his staff have made one big move recently that makes it seem possible that Tennessee could make this move as well.

On Aug. 23, 2023, Tennessee announced a 10-year partnership with Food City for the naming rights of Tennessee’s basketball arena, formerly known as Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vols’ arena is now known as Thompson-Boling Arena at the Food City Center, with some fans adopting the new name early on and some sticking with familiarity in the “TBA” acronym.

The 10-year naming-rights deal was obviously a big payday for Tennessee and will allow for several stadium enhancements over the next few seasons including new club amenities, a state-of-the-art video board, and new exterior enhancements. Tennessee officially added the “Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center” sign to the exterior of the arena on April 18, 2024.

There’s no telling whether Tennessee will use this new on-field advertisement or not for the 2024 season, or if it’s something that’s picked up down the road in future seasons once some details get ironed out first.

But, either way, it’s now on the table after the NCAA’s announcement on Thursday. So it’s certainly something to watch for.

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