FORT WORTH, TEXAS --- Oklahoma University, Kansas University, University of Texas, Oklahoma State and conference champion Iowa State University are all charter members of the Midwest powerhouse Big XII Conference. As the road to the final four ...
FORT WORTH, TEXAS --- Oklahoma University, Kansas University, University of Texas, Oklahoma State and conference champion Iowa State University are all charter members of the Midwest powerhouse Big XII Conference. As the road to the final four winds down, Big XII fans all across the country will continue to root for their favorite collegiate school along the path to the fair Final Four city of Indianapolis, Ind.
Meanwhile, in the heart of Texas, another sport will be pounding away at the 1.5-mile oval of Texas Motor Speedway. Competitors of the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division will battle to determine who will reign supreme as the 2000 Busch Series champion.
But what do the NASCAR Busch Series and Big XII athletics have in common? From the outset, there isn't a whole lot the two entities share. The one thing the two sports engines do share, however, is the red, white and black 66 shield associated with Phillips Petroleum Company.
Primary sponsor of the No. 66 Chevrolet driven by Todd Bodine, Phillips 66 was involved with Big XII athletics well before they ever appeared as a primary sponsor in one of NASCAR's touring series. For 13 years, the Oklahoma-based company has been the title sponsor of men's Big XII basketball. Since embarking on the Big XII journey, Phillips 66 has since become the title sponsor of men's and women's swimming and diving as well as Big XII baseball. "We first became involved with collegiate athletics back when the Big XII was still the Big 8," explained Bob Pomeroy, director of sponsorship for Phillips 66. "The Big 8 was in the heart of our marketing area and Phillips 66 had a long history of sponsoring amateur swimming and basketball. It was through the personal relationships between the commissioners of the Big 8 and Phillips 66 executive level management that the title sponsorship evolved." At the time, the Big 8 consisted of eight schools from Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado and Missouri. Approximately four years ago, four schools from the state of Texas were added to the conference, thus the renaming of the conference to the Big XII. The addition of Texas University, Texas A&M Texas Tech and Baylor increased the strength of the Big XII, as well as the reach of Phillips 66 as title sponsor of the conference's men's basketball program. "Texas is a big market for Phillips 66," Pomeroy said. "It certainly added to the impact of our title sponsorship because it really increased the presence of Phillips 66 in collegiate athletics. When Texas was added, it basically doubled the audience of Big XII athletics." In the midst of the Texas acquisition for the Big XII, Phillips 66 expanded their sports sponsorship to the NASCAR Busch Series. In 1997, Phillips 66 became the primary sponsor of the Diamond Ridge Motorsports entry and driver Elliott Sadler. In 1999, Phillips 66 became primary sponsor for Bodine and the No. 66 Cicci-Welliver Racing entry. In an effort to create some common synergies, Phillips 66 added the Big XII Conference logo to the race car as an associate sponsor. "It was through the relationship with the conference that they came to be on the racecar," Pomeroy said. "We talked about putting the logo on the racecar and they thought it would be a good idea. "And actually, they didn't get all excited about it until we had them at the Busch race last year in Texas. We invited them out to the hospitality event, introduced them to Todd (Bodine) and gave them pit access so they could really get a feel for the sport of stock car racing. After actually seeing the logo on the racecar and actually being at the track they just loved it." Since becoming part of the Phillips 66 racing program, the Big XII has become the envy of other top-notch collegiate conferences. "The company that handles the marketing of the Big XII received a call around the middle of the 1999 season from the representatives of the Southeastern Conference (SEC)," Pomeroy explained. "The SEC caught wind of the Big XII being on a racecar and was wondering how it came about because they were terribly interested in being associated with NASCAR as well. So, it's really worked out well for all parties involved."