Tuesday, October 9, 2012

D13 Visits Chicago: Class Trip Recap

The Class of 2013 poses in the lobby of the Joyce Center at Notre Dame

Each year in the DeVos Program, the class closest to graduation embarks on a class trip during their final semester in Orlando. This year, the Class of 2013 chose to travel to Chicago after raising a DeVos-record $17,500 through various fundraising efforts. The trip occurred later than previous trips, putting it in the heart of the students' job search. This not only added value to the trip, but raised the stakes of each networking encounter, a challenge that D13 willfully accepted.

The schedule of the trip, created by D13er Claire Burnett, brought the group to Paragon Marketing Group, the Big 10 Conference Office, the University of Notre Dame, the Chicago Fire, Chicago Bulls, and the Chicago Cubs. These visits, coupled with the annual networking dinner, provided D13 with a wealth of knowledge, great stories, and an overall fulfilling trip. Below is a quick description of each visit, along with some major takeaways from each organization.

D13 with Toyota Park, home of the Chicago Fire, in the background

Paragon Marketing Group:

Our time with Paragon Marketing Group began with partner Tony Schiller giving a brief overview of the organization, its inception, and what has made the organization successful. He attributed their success to open communication with its client base, a small, family-like atmosphere, and understanding the goals and objectives of the clients. Mr. Schiller was followed by two other partners in the agency, as well as five different employees who work across the organization. Paragon focuses on two areas: corporate consulting and production of high school athletic events, most in conjunction with ESPN. On the consulting side, Paragon represents Gatorade, United, Bayer 1-a-Day, General Mills, and PNC Bank, among others.

Major Takeaways: Smaller firms allow for a family-like atmosphere, better communication, and a more intimate organizational culture. When dealing with clients, it's important to understand their goals and objectives at all times, and assure those goals are at the forefront of every campaign developed for the client. Finally, when working for an organization, work hard and focus less on yourself. People will notice your dedication and reward you for it.

Big 10 Conference:

Wednesday began with a visit to the Big Ten Conference offices, just outside of Chicago. Similar to the Paragon visit, we had a series of speakers in successive order each provide insight into their daily responsibilities, career path, and keys to success. The highlight of the visit was a 20-minute conversation with Commissioner Jim Delaney, thought by many to be the most powerful individual in college athletics. In addition to Commissioner Delaney, the group heard from individuals in compliance, life skills, championships, basketball, television scheduling, and technology.

Major Takeaways: The Big 10 Network was the pioneer of the conference specific television channels, a model being copied by many. The network is now in 80-90 million homes, including 30 million cable subscriptions. The network provides the conference and its member institutions significant revenue to assist them with their day-to-day expenses. One interesting note in the wake of the Penn State Scandal: the Big Ten used to have an enforcement office within its departments, but no longer has one and instead acts as an advisor to the institutions regarding such matters.

University of Notre Dame:

When D13 finished the two-hour bus ride to Notre Dame from Chicago, many still felt some confusion over why Notre Dame had the reputation it has despite its lack of athletic success in football and men's basketball in recent years. Suffice to say, the group completely understands after their visit. Notre Dame combines a gorgeous campus, a pure tradition, and academic excellence to provide students an exceptional college experience. It is not hard to see why most of the people the group met who work for Notre Dame completed their undergraduate degree there as well. The tour began in the newly renovated Joyce Center, home of the basketball and volleyball teams. After a discussion regarding the challenges Notre Dame's pure tradition presents on finding incremental sponsorship revenue, the group sat in on the women's basketball practice, which featured star guard Skylar Diggins. The group then moved to the football stadium and received a tour of the locker room, entrance to the field, and field. After meeting with Notre Dame's young leadership group, D13 traveled to the new hockey arena, which is available to the local South Bend community and has been extremely successful since its recent opening.

Major Takeaways: The key in understanding Notre Dame's business model lies in the balance between continuing the pure tradition and searching for enhanced revenue streams. The football stadium and basketball arena were devoid of signage, except for the NBC Sports Network logo in the stadium. Notre Dame continues its football independence, but did announce their intention to join the ACC which should provide additional revenue. Even with the millions of revenue that Notre Dame leaves on the table, they have been able to build some impressive athletic facilities during recent years, even with an international recession. This can be attributed to their unique funding model, which requires 100% committed funding, and 75% of funding be in-hand before any building commences.

Chicago Fire:

On Thursday morning, D13 visited the Chicago Fire of the MLS at Toyota Park. The visit was coordinated by Casey Klein, who serves as the Director of Ticket Sales after joining the Fire from the Bulls. Casey shared his top three keys to success in ticket sales - 1. Ask for sale 2. Up-sell 3. Referrals. The group then heard from professionals in communications, business development/corporate partnerships, fan experience, and the Fire's Foundation. Each of them discussed how they enjoy the challenge of working in the MLS and being an underdog in the professional sports landscape.

Major Takeaways: Especially in the passionate sports city of Chicago, the Fire face an uphill battle trying to obtain media and marketing space against the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, Bears, and Blackhawks. The MLS is the only American sports league that is not considered the best in the world. This presents unique challenges in developing a large enough following to obtain a substantial media rights deal, which will be the key to their long-term success. Despite these challenges, the Fire are doing a lot of things right now to attract fans to their games and become lifetime followers.

Chicago Bulls:

After grabbing lunch at Portillos, the group headed to the United Center to visit the Chicago Bulls. After the inevitable photo shoot with the Michael Jordan statue, the group spent a few hours with executives in business operations, ticket sales, game operations, and corporate partnerships. The Bulls still feel significant dividends from Michael Jordan and the six championships that his teams brought to the city. Now, the team and the business feed off of the success of Derrick Rose, who they hope will return to top form after his knee surgery. Some of the business initiatives that they discussed were the possibility of building a practice facility next to the United Center (current facility is about 45 minutes away), the incremental revenue that was obtained due to implementing dynamic ticket pricing, and a community basketball game that the Bulls organized between rival street gangs to promote peace through sport.

Major Takeaways: The Bulls face an interesting challenge in trying to embrace and flaunt the history of their franchise and moving forward to the future. In a recent SportBusiness Journal, Michael Jordan was voted the most influential endorser in sports, despite being retired for many years. Even with Michael Jordan owning the Bobcats, the Bulls still see significant revenue due to his association with the team. Another interesting takeaway was their intern program. All interns, regardless of their career interest, work in ticket sales and focus on bringing in as much revenue for the team as possible. If selected to a full time position after their internship, they are then available to pursue career options outside of ticket sales.

Chicago Cubs:

D13's final stop was a friday morning visit to Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs. The visit began with a tour and history lesson of Wrigley Field which, along with Fenway Park in Boston, represent the oldest ballparks in the country. Wrigley Field is approaching its 100 year anniversary, and instituted many of the staples in baseball including built-in concourse concessions, the outfield scoreboard, the singing of the National anthem, and many other traditions. After the tour, the group met with the team's General Counsel, as well as professionals in the community affairs and event management staffs. Finally, the group heard from special guest Theo Epstein, the Cub's President of Baseball Operations. Theo spoke about the rebuilding process of the roster, broke down the structure of his staff, and indicated a desire to institute infrastructure changes to Wrigley Field, similar to changes made during his tenure with the Boston Red Sox.

Major Takeaways: Wrigley Field is an absolute gem for baseball purists, but provides many challenges to the Cubs ball club. Potentially the biggest disadvantage is the lack of a batting cage near the club house. Currently, if a player is going to enter the game as a pinch hitter, he must pull down a net in the locker room, and hit off a tee to prepare. This provides a siginificant disadvantage to the players. The key to the infrastructure change will be to maintain the historical elements of Wrigley Field, while making the necessary technological and baseball related changes that desperately need to be made.

The Class of 2013 poses in the Bulls locker room during their tour

Note: All photos taken by D13er Orlando Gunn

Thursday, September 13, 2012

UCF Athletics’ Rebuilding Process Includes DeVos

Here at the University of Central Florida, the Athletic Department has had quite a year. After receiving NCAA mandated sanctions against its men’s football and basketball programs which resulted in 1-year postseason bans for the two sports (football is appealing), as well as the loss of its Athletic Director and wide receivers coach, it’s safe to say that the Department needed a jolt of new life. On a more positive note, the school was accepted into the Big East Conference, which will commence during the 2013 athletic year, and should increase the television revenue and nationwide exposure for the University.

Mr. Todd Stansbury was hired as the new Vice President and Athletic Director to direct and shape this new era for UCF Athletics, and is looking forward to the challenge. Mr. Stansbury comes from Oregon State University, where he held the role of Executive Associate Athletic Director. Now at UCF, he’s hoping to grow the Athletic Department through an infusion of talent, new ideas, and positive energy.

Mr. Stansbury was joined by Jessica Reo (Senior Associate AD for Student Services), Dave Hansen (Senior Associate AD, Internal Operations), Zack Lassiter (Senior Associate AD, External Operations), Chris Huff (Assistant AD, Golden Knights Club), and Mike O’Donnell (Director of Administrative Operations) during a panel session with the students in the DeVos Program. Mr. Stansbury, while describing his path to his current role, explained how his mission is and always has been to develop young leaders in the area of sport. Each member of the panel then described how they ended up at UCF, and why they are looking forward to a new era for UCF athletics. There was a clear commitment to using the students in the DeVos Program in the growth process.

Some of the other takeaways that the group took from the panel were:

  • Build a strong network
  • We’re building our brand daily, regardless of whether we know it or not
  • Be willing to step back or redirect to find growth in your career
  • We’re too young to be cynical, bring enthusiasm every day
  • Learn how to allow yourself to be vulnerable and ask for help
  • Athletics is not a job, it’s a lifestyle!

The commitment stated above has been strengthened due of the hard work of several current and former DeVos Students adding value to the organization, despite their hectic schedules. In the Class of 2013, there are five students involved with the Athletic Department through internships, graduate assistantships, or volunteer positions. Reggie Gossett serves as the Graduate Assistant to the Athletic Director’s office, Michelle Milkovich interns with the Development Office, Rahman Anjorin volunteers in the Compliance Office, Michael Farris is volunteering in the Marketing Department (Fan Development), and Staci O’Keefe has secured a position as the Operations Assistant for the football team. Each of these individuals has worked hard to add value to their department, which is consistent with former DeVos graduates. The recently departed Marcus Sedberry (now Director of Student-Athlete Development at the University of Arkansas) was key in starting the UCF Student Services department, and Class of 2012 graduate Cori Pinkett now serves as the Assistant Director of Student Services. All of these individuals have made the UCF Athletics staff confident in looking to the Class of 2014 and beyond in playing a key role in fulfilling the potential of UCF Athletics.

The panel got many individuals in the DeVos Program excited about the future, and current and future classes of the DeVos Program will assist in pushing UCF athletics to new heights.

DeVos Grads – Do you agree with the points above by the UCF Staff? Do you have anything to add?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Meet the Clas of 2014: Robert Agusta

Each fall, the DeVos Program welcomes a new group of enthusiastic, socially responsible, and productive young sport business professionals into its family. In an ongoing series, we will be highlighting the students of the Class of 2014. Welcome to DeVos!

Name: Robert Agusta

Hometown: DeBary, FL

Undergraduate School & Major: Stetson University, Finance & BBA

Past Sport Industry Experience: NHL Business Development Intern, Orlando Magic Community Relations Intern, Daytona International Speedway Box Office

Current GA or Sport Internship/Job: TIDES (WNBA, RGRC, and College RGRC) & Website Coordinator

Reasons for choosing the DeVos Program: It's one of the best programs in the country, the program's focus on ethics and diversity, and its location in Florida.

Future Career Ambitions: My goal is to work with an NBA franchise again. I would like to have a career in marketing (probably brand marketing or event presentation) or finance.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? If I could have any superpower, it would be the ability to fly. Why, because I hate traffic. Plus, ladies love it.

If you could trade jobs with anyone alive, who would it be and why? I would trade jobs with Orlando Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan because the Orlando Magic are my favorite franchise and I think it would be an incredible experience to try to build them into a championship contender. Although, I think this is a dream that’s best kept as just that.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Meet the Class of 2014: Janelle Diaz

Each fall, the DeVos Program welcomes a new group of enthusiastic, socially responsible, and productive young sport business professionals into its family. In an ongoing series, we will be highlighting the students of the Class of 2014. Welcome to DeVos!

Name: Janelle Diaz

Hometown: Miami, FL

Undergraduate School & Major: Florida State University - Sport Management

Past Sport Industry Experience: At Florida State University, I was a manager on the women's basketball team for two years. I also worked at University of Miami as a Wellness Coach for five years.

Current GA or Sport Internship/Job: Graduate Assistant for the National Consortium for Academics and Sports

Reasons for choosing the DeVos Program: I chose the DeVos Program for its strong emphasis on diversity and ethical issues. Not only to learn more about these issues, but also the opportunity to make a difference. When I volunteered with the program before I chose to apply, I truly got an understanding of the program's mission, and really liked the family atmosphere here.

Future Career Ambitions: Upon completion of the program, I would like to develop into one of the next generation women leaders in sports, and truly make a difference in the sports community. I would like to work in operations and administration for the WNBA.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? If I could have any superpower, I would have the power to read minds. It will allow me to understand people better, and really get an insight on how they really feel about things.

If you could trade jobs with anyone alive right now, who would it be and why? If I could trade jobs with anyone, I would trade jobs with Oprah. Her ability to conquer so much success and continue to strive for higher is something I admire. Also, her continuous efforts to help people and make a difference all over the world.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Meet the Class of 2014: Theo Trotman

Each fall, the DeVos Program welcomes a new group of enthusiastic, socially responsible, and productive young sport business professionals into its family. In an ongoing series, we will be highlighting the students of the Class of 2014. Welcome to DeVos!

Name: Theo Trotman

Hometown: St. George, Barbados

Undergraduate School & Major: Texas Christian University (TCU), Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Economics

Past Sport Industry Experience: Sports Marketing Intern at TCU Athletics Department (Jan-May 2012), Facility Team Leader at TCU Campus Recreation (May 2011-2012)

Current GA or Sport Internship/Job: Graduate Research Assistant, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport

Reasons for choosing the DeVos Program: I chose this Program because it offers the opportunity to earn a Master in Sport Business Management, in addition to being a candidate for a Master of Business Administration for a dual degree. Additionally, the DeVos Program provides an environment that provides the necessary facilities and resources necessary to experience the sport industry.

Future Career Ambitions: I wish to be an administrator within collegiate sports, whether it's in marketing/sales operations or academic services.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why Flying because it would make travelling a whole lot easier.

If you could trade jobs with anybody alive right now, who would it be and why? Any of the commentators of the College GameDay (College Football) show because it looks like they genuinely enjoy hosting the show and also embrace the unique and exciting atmosphere at all the different colleges they visit.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Meet the Class of 2014: Nathan Kinkopf

Each fall, the DeVos Program welcomes a new group of enthusiastic, socially responsible, and productive young sport business professionals into its family. In an ongoing series, we will be highlighting the students of the Class of 2014. Welcome to DeVos!

1. Name: Nate Kinkopf

2. Hometown: Euclid, OH

3. Undergraduate School & Major: The Ohio State University - Sports Management, Business minor

4. Previous Experience in Sports Industry: Facility ops and membership services at the Recreation and Physical Activity Center, OSU's main campus rec facility

5. Current GA or Internship: Graduate Assistant for The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES)

6. Why did you choose the DeVos Program? Core values, stresses good relationships/teamwork, and the prestige of our Directors

7. Career Aspirations: I would like to work in collegiate athletic administration as an AD one day. I would like to help develop student athletes and have a positive effect on their career goals.

8. If you could have any superpower, which one would you choose and why? I would want to be able to teleport (if that's a super power), so I could get to all the Buckeyes and Browns games and back this fall.

9. If you could trade jobs with anyone in the world, who would it be and why? I would trade jobs with whoever wins the Presidency this fall so that I could abolish the two-party system and try to restore some value to the U.S. dollar before it is literally worth nothing. If that's too political, I would like to trade with Gene Smith so I could run one of the greatest athletic departments in the country (at clearly the greatest university in the country).

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hope for Stanley - August 2012

Each August, the DeVos Sport Business Management Program holds its new class orientation in the city of New Orleans to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina. Although the general public perception is that the rebuilding process is close to being finished, New Orleans still needs a tremendous amount of help. Dr. Lapchick made a commitment in 2006 to this city, and the Program sends students there 3-4 times per year. On top of the phenomenal community service that the group participates in, the trip acts as a way for the new students to get to know one another, the Directors, and the older class.

For the older class, the Class of 2013 in this case, the trip serves as the last Hope for Stanley trip as a class. D13 is entering their final semester at UCF before starting their internships and jobs. For each class, it is a humbling experience and a way to create tangible benefits for a great cultural city. Below are some quotes from some students that went on the trip. Also, be sure to check out photos from the trip on the Hope for Stanley Alliance's facebook page.

Class of 2014:

Holly Mercier: "Hope for Stanley is a great experience to make an impact in a city that is still in need of assistance but is too often forgotten. To be able to lend a hand to such a strong community was truly an honor. I was reminded of the responsibility that we all have to one another as human beings and the great things we can accomplish when we all work together. The Hope for Stanley trip was truly a life-changing experience."

Angie O'Flaherty: "Giving back to the community of New Orleans was an amazing experience! I never knew how much assistance the city still needed after seven years. I am grateful to have had the opportunity."

Class of 2013:

Orlando Gunn: Regarding the Breaux House & homeowner Ms. Donna- "It's been 7 long years. Seven years since she could call what she lived in her home. Seven years since seeing what matters most to her be shared with neighbors she's known since the age of five. From state to state, she's tried to make do, but in her heart of hearts, she knew no other placed but New Orleans would do. With our help, whether it was sweeping saw dust, measuring dry wall, or drilling into the ceiling, Ms. Donna along with her husband Larry were assured that others will come home as well."

Steve Thiel: "I could not have imagined a better trip to serve as my final Hope for Stanley experience while in the DeVos Program. The group I was a part of worked on the largest and oldest house that St. Bernard Project has ever supervised. When we arrived, our site supervisor told us that the site had to be finished by the time we left. Through the hard work of the group, we were able to accomplish that goal, and finished the home that had had volunteers working on it since February. New Orleans will always have a special place in my heart thanks to these Hope for Stanley trips."

Friday, August 3, 2012

DeVos Students "Deliver the Dream"

Background: As DeVos students, we have a community service requirement each semester that we must fulfill while in the program. While each of the first three semesters has a required number of hours to fulfill (40, 42, 10), the final semester’s requirement is to participate in a weekend-long camp focusing on individuals with disabilities, or life-altering medical conditions. Deliver the Dream is an example of one of those camps, specifically focusing on families with a member battling a serious illness. As of July 20th, the Class of 2013 has completed 3,625.5 hours of service, with many more to come. Here are two students’ thoughts on their experience at Deliver the Dream.


Deliver the Dream was exactly that. I felt that we as volunteers did our best to deliver the dream to the mothers and fathers that opened up and trusted us with their children. I quickly realized how seldom the parents of my assigned family were able to simply hold hands. They were always so busy with their 5-year-old daughter who has cerebral palsy and their two year old who had more energy than three volunteers combined. So as I, and a fellow classmate chased and watched over our two angels for the weekend, it warmed my heart to get to see them spend time with each other and really just let their hair down. It put a lot into perspective for me as I realized having children is both a rewarding and continual gift. I will never forget Emma And Joey.


After the first day, I immediately began to shut down. It had already been a long week and there were a million things going through my head. All I could think was, I can't handle this for two more days.

After sitting down with my roommate for the weekend however, we both helped each other put things into perspective. The entire weekend was about being selfless. Our biggest struggle was to step outside of ourselves and really focus on our families. It taught me to really look outside of myself and make this weekend about my little girl with cerebral palsy, Maryn. When I started to look at things with that perspective, I was able to gain so much more then I originally expected to. I admired these parents and their incredible strength. No one planned for this to happen, but they stuck by their kids and it brought a warmth to my heart that can't be explained. To say the least, it was truly a humbling experience. It made me appreciate simple things such as being able to help myself. I'd recommend this camp to anyone. It was probably one of the hardest weekends I've worked both physically and emotionally, but the benefits and lessons I learned far exceeded the hours of time I gave.

About the Authors:

Rahman Anjorin is currently a member of the 2013 DeVos Class. His graduate career is preceded by completing his Exercise Science degree at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA. After graduating from the DeVos Program, Rahman hopes to transition into Player Engagement and Athlete Development. Feel free to contact him at ranjori1@gmail.com

Claire Burnett is a current member of the Class of 2013. She graduated with a degree in Advertising/Public Relations from the University of Central Florida and hopes to work in brand activation and experiential marketing upon completion of the DeVos Program. You can follow her on twitter @_ClaireMia