You would think a company that is in the business of helping individuals and corporations improve their public relations efforts would have known better than to send out an email chiding a basketball team for losing in the NCAA basketball tournament, but apparently someone just couldn’t resist.

The email was sent out to various PR professionals with the subject line of  Don’t be like Wichita State.

That was immediately followed in the body of the email with this:

…and not seize a big opportunity like $300 off a PR News subscription. Take your PR game and know-how to a championship level with proven communications tactics that you can implement today. This is your last chance to score big. This limited-time offer expires this Friday, March 28.

Now for those that don’t follow college basketball, Wichita State was the only undefeated team in the country, having won 35 games this season and was picked by many to make the Final Four and maybe even the championship.  That came to a screeching halt on Sunday when the Shockers (how appropriate) lost to Kentucky 78-76 ending their dream season.

That stab at Wichita State, however tongue-in-cheek in its intentions apparently upset fans of the school, causing the publisher to issue an apology:

Dear Readers,

On behalf of PR News, I wish to apologize to Wichita State University and its many basketball fans and supporters across the country for the reference to the university in our March 26 email solicitation. The subject line was inappropriate and reflected poor judgment on our part. We have taken steps to ensure such statements made in our email solicitations will not happen again.

Thank you for understanding that mistakes happen, even to those who serve the PR trade. We are humbled by the incident and appreciate your continued support.

Sincerely,
Diane Schwartz
Senior Vice President & Group Publisher, PR News

I guess that means no more basketball references.

Instead of a clever attempt to get recipients to open the email, PR News received a lot of grief instead and learned a little about PR in the process.

Chalk another victory up to the PC police.

The University of Maryland caught the ACC most of the NCAA off guard, when they announced on Monday that they would be leaving the ACC and joining the Big 10 conference starting in 2014.

For Maryland it was an offer they felt they couldn’t afford to turn down, as the Big 10 offered the university a chance to earn more money through television contracts than the ACC could hope to and in the process help close a yawning sports budget deficit that led to the cutting of seven sports programs.

The announcement has brought widespread disbelief from the student body, and concern from coaches and players who aren’t sure what the future holds for the program.

Maryland isn’t the first team to change sports conferences, but it may be one of the most shocking considering they had been a charter member of the ACC since its inception in 1953.  They now become just the second team to ever leave the conference- South Carolina departed in 1971,  and they weren’t on anybody’s radar screen as a potential defection.

As a Maryland graduate, I have mixed feelings.  If the school can improve its bottom line when it comes to athletics, then that’s great.  It was a tragedy that they had to chop some of the non-revenue programs, especially ones that were competing quite well, but now maybe, some of them will get a second chance with the Big 10 realignment.

There are still some hurdles facing Maryland- including determining whether or not the regents vote was legal, as well as the $50 million exit fee they owe the ACC- one that they voted against, making me wonder if a move wasn’t in the works long ago.

I won’t miss the regular beatings in football that Maryland suffered at the hands of Virginia Tech and FSU, but they will only be replaced by Penn State and Michigan , and maybe a few others, making their conference play a much tougher road to hoe.  On the other hand, it might be fun to travel to a Big 10 away game and the huge stadiums most schools play in.

But I will miss the basketball rivalries against Duke and UNC in particular, but the Big 10 has some excellent basketball schools and more exposure for Maryland’s resurgent basketball team won’t hurt.

College sports has become a big money game-witness the constant realignment of the various conferences all done on the basis of automatic bowl bids and more television money, which means that Maryland’s move while certainly not the first, will definitely not be the last.