Baylor Baseball

The Story: SicEm365's Path Continues To Be Formed

April 30, 2019

It was a beautiful gameday in Waco as the Baylor Bears were set to face off the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the homecoming football game. Baylor student Brady Anderson was just like any other student on gameday, walking around from tailgate to tailgate to get hyped up for the game.

As he strolled down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, he sensed something that would change his everyday life. He heard the sound of people conversing about the upcoming game. Being the sports fan that he is, Anderson turned his head to see where the sound was coming from. Sure enough, he was looking at the SicEm365 tailgate: a large green shipping container stocked with televisions and covered with Baylor gear and decorations. Most importantly, it was surrounded by avid Baylor fans. 


Anderson learned that SicEm365 was a subscription-based website that provides community forums and insider information to the biggest of Baylor sports fans. Drawn in by the energizing environment and engaging conversations he had at the tailgate, Anderson utilized the free premium option for Baylor students and signed up for an account. Little did he know he was becoming a part of a larger whole by joining what has become one of the hottest commodities in the realm of Baylor athletics.

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SicEm365 did not get to where it was that day without its fair share of obstacles. One of the three current owners of the site, Brian Ethridge, said that it started in 1998 when he was looking for a Baylor baseball score. After digging around, he stumbled upon a private message board that shared insider information on Baylor recruiting. Ethridge said he signed up for the site and even started giving them information.

“I knew some coaches that were high school coaches up in Dallas,” Ethridge said. “I even knew some coaches that were on the Baylor staff at the time.”

Ethridge said that, in 2001, he had a conversation with a few fellow members of the message board about getting paid to report the information they were finding. Afterward, Ethridge said that they decided to start up their own site called BearScoop. 

BearScoop was an invite-only message board that Baylor fans and insiders could share recruiting information and discuss Baylor athletics. After almost a decade, the site grew to about 200 subscribers before Ethridge said he received a phone call about having the site go national “to compete against rivals.” The opportunity was with 247Sports, a national network of websites, eventually purchased by CBS, that would offer them the infrastructure he needed to get the site going.

“I can handle football,” Ethridge said. “I could not handle basketball. That is not my game. I like basketball and played it, but I never got to the recruiting side of it.”

Ethridge said that he then reached out to one of the basketball experts, Ashley Hodge, on BearScoop about becoming his partner in the venture with 247Sports. 

“We both brought different interests and different skillsets to the table,” Hodge said. “We both loved Baylor and were big Baylor fans.”

Ethridge and Hodge then started the site as BearsTruth on 247Sports.

During this time, Ethridge and Hodge had Colt Barber, a student at the time, intern for them. Barber said he “always loved doing it,” but he never thought of it as something that he would end up doing full-time.

Right around when Robert Griffin III won his Heisman trophy in 2011, Barber said that the site “took off” and grew to around 1,000 members. Now one of the three owners of SicEm365, Barber said the opportunity presented itself to grow even more.

“There was a lot of excitement that Baylor never really had before,” Barber said. “There was a potential for a big market.”

During this time, the Baylor football program was playing at an incredibly high level and the site was flourishing. 

Baylor University would then go through one of the most difficult time periods in its history.

After many investigations, Baylor was stunned by several rape accusations and charges that would put a spotlight on the university as a whole. Since BearsTruth was a national and public message board through 247Sports, anyone from anywhere could comment on the BearsTruth message boards. As a result, Hodge said that many fans of other universities plagued the site with hate comments and derogatory personal statements about people who supported the university. 

According to Hodge, they had seemed to have lost the exclusivity that the site cherished from its inception. While it was a horrendous situation that the university was dealing with, Hodge said that it would be the “catalyst” that set BearsTruth on the path to a “confined space” strictly for Baylor fans to share information.

Barber would eventually resign from his position with 247Sports on BearsTruth and was set to enter a different field of work, but after he and Ethridge spent multiple months out of the market while Hodge continued on with the CBS affiliate, the opportunity that would eventually bring SicEm365 to reality had prestented itself.

The opportunity to move over to the F5 Networks, where not just anyone could jump on the site and infect the message boards during this difficult time, was knocking on their door. Representatives from F5, the originators of TexAgs, arguably the most successful subscription-based website in the market, brought the owners in to show them their business model and how it worked for them. Ethridge said that the group gave them a “roadmap,” as they got to see what SicEm365 could be with the F5 Networks with gameday tailgates, tons of employees and a physical location.

They were then faced with a tough decision, but decided that it would be best for the site to move on and take the new opportunity. 

Barber said that moving an estimated 1,200 members and recreating a community in a different area was difficult, but in a time of need it finally gave Baylor fans a “safe haven” to discuss Baylor athletics. Ethridge said that they had to have faith in themselves to move from national to independent, but the following that was created by the three individuals over several years were itching to move over to the new platform and the move went better than even they imagined.

In August of 2016, SicEm365 officially launched on the F5 Networks as a premium message board with Ethridge as the initial owner. Barber and Hodge officially joined the team at a later date. Ethridge would serve as the visionary with his experience in supply chain management, Hodge would contribute his exceptional knowledge with finances, and Barber would utilize his creativity by being the Editor-In-Chief.

Hodge said that it was “smooth sailing” with “constant growth” once the team was back together. SicEm365 and prominent free Baylor forum joined forces prior to the start of the 2017 football and the partnership soldified Baylor fans from everywhere into a single community on both sides of the payment line. 

However, Hodge and Ethridge both worked other jobs and the growth of the site meant that it demanded more and  more content. At that point, the ownership group decided to bring in Grayson Grundhoefer in 2018 after he reached out to Barber about working for them while he was in graduate school.

Grundhoefer was ecstatic to join what he said was a “community-oriented” site, especially one that he particularly wanted to be a part of. After working as an intern, the owners of SicEm365 decided to hire Grundhoefer as the Director of Broadcasting and Content. 

“It was great when I first started,” Grundhoefer said. “But things like media sessions for other sports were not on there.”

He quickly set about to make that change. With Grundhoefer, SicEm365 was able to expand the umbrella of their content with a full-time employee working in Waco that could attend games and shoot video of interview sessions and highlight plays during games. Grundhoefer also started up the weekly Fast Friday Podcast on the site with ESPN Central Texas’ Craig Smoak.

“In the future, I hope the site continues to provide the insider knowledge that they do now,” current subscriber Caleb Long said. “That is what keeps me interested.”

The owners have even brought in a few additional interns to help out with the video content on the site. Grundhoefer said that this “bigger staff” has allowed them to produce not only more content but better content that Baylor fans can get daily.

With all kinds of new content flowing through, Barber said that SicEm365 has grown to around 2,000 paying subscribers with between 80,000 to 85,000 users per month

“In the future, I hope the site continues to provide the insider knowledge that they do now,” current subscriber Caleb Long said. “That is what keeps me interested.”

While the site still has its roots in the insider knowledge that Ethridge came across on the private message board in 1998, the owners have a particular vision for the future of the site.

Ethridge said that they hope to bring in more employees and find a permanent building for radio shows and television broadcasts. Barber said he looks to increase the amount of content and have it be “exhaustive” by having someone dedicated to each portion of the site and resemble a “third-tier network” for Baylor athletics. He said that they hope to grow to their goal subscriber base of “10 percent of McLane Stadium,” which is 4,500 members. Hodge said that he dreams of a site that is “clicking on all cylinders” and fostering relationships as they continue to create a “tribe” of Baylor fans. 

Grundhoefer said that he believes that SicEm365 will “grow through Baylor students,” and Long said that he often points fellow students to the free membership for students, as that often leads to them quickly getting hooked and wanting to pay to subscribe once they graduate.

Students can receive a free membership and log on to to participate in what Ethridge calls the “one-stop-shop for everything Baylor.”

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