In the summer of 2000 Tom Light was banned from a Kansas University message board for use of the word "sucks." Tom, aka "Deep Nylon," did not complain. Instead he launched his own Kansas based fan message board system and Phog.net was born. Two and half years and 6,000 members later, Light decided to take his site to the next level. He is joined by Julie Jamison, Joel Cox, and Tris Felix as Phog.net becomes a part of TheInsiders.com network.
"In the past few years recruiting has become more of a spectator sport. As an independent site we simply did not have the resources to cover recruiting in the way our fans would like, particularly with football," said Light. "This partnership with TheInsiders gives our users access to a fantastic database and nationally recognized analysts, but also allows us to continue to provide our localized coverage. "
The opportunity to partner with well-known entities such as Yahoo, Sports Illustrated, and Fox Sports was another attraction. The Phog.net staff was also impressed with the technology developed by Insiders and the flexibility it brings to the publishing process.
"Phog.net has never been a cookie cutter site. It was important to us to maintain a unique look as well as control over our content," explained Felix. "Our independence has always been valuable to us and our users. Our goal is to increase the options we offer our members, not take away features or content."
Cox echoed this sentiment.
"Partnering with TheInsiders gives Phog.net a tremendous marketing platform on which to provide a more enhanced user experience through various multi-media opportunities. At the end of the day, this partnership with Insiders simply gives KU fans more options," said Cox.
Jim Heckman, TheInsiders.com CEO, called Phog.net a "huge addition" to the network.
"Phog.net has almost legendary status on the Internet," Heckman said. "The loyalty and ferocity of the KU fans is impressive. Phog.net offers some of the top college basketball coverage around and is a great addition to network sources such as Dave Telep, our national basketball recruiting editor, and sites such as PrepWestHoops.com and CollegeBasketballNews.com."
Phog.net will continue its alliance with ESPN radio's 1320 KLWN and Rock Chalk Sportstalk. Recruiting profiles, fan oriented stories, and highlighted headlines will remain staples for the site. Phog.net has also secured commitments from a wide variety of columnists, journalists, and former players to increase coverage. Still, the message boards and interactions between fans remain a key component.
"The message boards have always been the heart and soul of Phog.net," said Light. "This continues to be a focus for us and our team of moderators. The contributions of our volunteers and users are invaluable."
Phog.net and Citadel Publishing will launch a print magazine as well, scheduled to debut in the spring. The four color glossy magazine will be produced ten times a year.
"The magazine is something we are excited about on so many levels," said Jamison. "Not only can we reach a new audience but also create a publication filled with keepsake quality features and photographs. A print magazine is also more convenient than a lap top for bathroom reading."