The 31st annual South by Southwest conference kicks off today and what started out as a trendy film and music festival has evolved into the summit for technology, politics, creative thinking and innovation. Today, SXSW hosts more than 400,000 attendees, 2,100 sessions and over 2,000 musical acts. However, as I review this year’s conference schedule overall and the Sports track in particular, I’ve noticed a lack of college athletic department voices. WHAT IF you leveraged the SXSW platform to tell your program’s brand story and highlight your key spokespeople? The Sports track tackles the latest trends, tech, brands and marketing opportunities across the industry, but WHAT IF you looked OUTSIDE of sports to activate at SXSW? The value of the conference – for me at least – is the access to creative thinkers across industries outside of sports. I find myself inspired more by keynotes and panels that focus on everything BUT sports. The opportunity for college athletic departments to learn, network and brainstorm is invaluable but WHAT IF you also placed your administrators, coaches and athletes on conference panels? Beyond Austin, SXSW is a national platform especially via social media. Per Mashable, there were 1.5 million SXSW-related tweets during last year’s conference. WHAT IF you leveraged the social conversation around the festival to infuse your program’s brand into the narrative?