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Koch PR Games: College Football Brought to You by Koch Industries

This is not the first time the Kochs have taken aim at colleges.

(Image: Football helmet via Shutterstock)

College football season has begun, and this year it is being brought to you by Koch Industries and not just in Kansas. CMD has obtained an exclusive list of the Koch-branded college football games, below.

The twelve Koch-backed college football games this season will feature Koch signage, a Koch video board, and Koch-branded giveaways.

Koch Industries is owned by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, who have made their fortune on refineries and fossil fuels. The Koch network of billionaires is one of the largest and most influential political operations in the country, and they are major funders of climate change denial operations like the American Legislative Exchange Council. The Kochs and their political network have pledged to raise and spend nearly a billion dollars to influence who wins the 2016 election.

This is not the first time the Kochs have taken aim at colleges.

The Kochs have come under scrutiny for providing funding to university programs with strings attached, raising serious questions about academic freedom. At Florida State, for example, the Kochs demanded control over the economic program’s curriculum and the hiring of professors in exchange for providing funding. At the University of Kansas, the Kochs earmarked funding to a university professor as part of a fight against the state’s renewable energy standards.

The Kochs have also tried to appeal directly to college students through the millennial-focused political advocacy group Generation Opportunity. That group is best known for its attempts to rally college students against the 2010 federal health care reform bill, which included a popular provision that enabled young people to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan even after they graduate. That group was behind the series of “creepy Uncle Sam” TV ads in 2012 as well as alcohol-fueled tailgate parties – complete with dozens of free pizzas – held during college football games.

Koch Industries is in is the midst of a 10-year image makeover, including airing pro-Koch ads during The Big Bang Theory and The Daily Show, to hilarious mocking by Jon Stewart. CMD recently reported on a major Koch hiring spree to beef-up its internal communications team, hiring senior PR pros with experience at firms known for shilling for cancer-causing tobacco, such as Edelman and Burson-Marsteller. One of these new hires is Steve Lombardo, the head of Koch Marketing and Communications, who previously worked to assist the cigarette company Philip Morris with its image problem (its image was so bad it rebranded itself globally as “Altria”).

“College sports are a great fit for us and we’re excited to lend our support to these schools,” Lombardo said of the Koch football deal.

Here is the full Koch college football schedule, published here for the first time:

September 03, 2015
U of Minnesota vs. TCU

September 12, 2015
Southern Methodist U vs. North Texas

September 19, 2015
Oklahoma State U vs. UT San Antonio
U of Arkansas vs. Texas Tech
U of Oklahoma vs. Tulsa
Texas A&M vs. Nevada.

September 26, 2015
U of Nebraska vs. Southern Miss.

October 03, 2015
Iowa State vs. U of Kansas

October 10, 2015
U of Kansas vs. Baylor

October 31, 2015
U of Houston vs. Vanderbilt.
U of Wisconsin vs. Rutgers

November 05, 2015
Kansas State U vs. Baylor

The Kochs will also be sponsoring men’s and women’s college basketball; check here for the list.

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