February Facts & Figures
SBC back at it in the Spring!
Spring 2021 Membership
of Members are Intended Business Majors
UW in the News
This semester, we get tested twice a week to gain access to campus buildings :(
Celebrate the Badgers Women's Hockey WCHA Championship!
Alumni Feature Spotlight
Q & A
When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in collegiate sports marketing?
I knew I wanted to pursue a career in sports after competing in DECA in high school. In college, I narrowed my scope via a variety of internships or job shadows (sports radio, event management, AHL, NBA) that I showed me what I didn’t want to do. In my senior year, I had (finally) secured an internship with the marketing office within Wisconsin Athletics and found something that I really loved. I know you guys routinely chat with Adam Ahern and Kevin Kluender in the athletic department, and I give them a lot of credit where I ended up. They introduced me to a slew of activities that kept me interested, engaged, and prepared me for my first full time role with Ohio State.
How does it feel to be a Badger alum working for Minnesota?
Many students that I talk to say they could never work for so-and-so team. That usually changes when you think about what has the best opportunity for you. Would you like to work for Ohio State or Minnesota, or would you want to work for a small DI like Bradley University in Illinois? It’s weird to root against your favorite team, but you start to find things that inspire you to root for your employer outside of the paycheck. You get excited for every win that your coach gets. You create connections with the student-athletes so you want them to succeed. Don’t get me wrong, I still have all of my Wisconsin mementos and get yelled at on zoom calls when colleagues see my a motion W items, but now you have other things to root for than just a win.
What is one of the most rewarding aspects of your work with the Gophers?
Working in collegiate athletics means that we are also a part of the University. I do take that role seriously and believe we are there to help teach and mentor students, as it is a part of their college experience. Therefore, one of the most rewarding tasks I have is working with our student interns. We have about 25 student interns and when they find what they want to do, it is so exciting. I don’t care if they end up working in sports or if they want to go work for a corporate entity, I just want them to find something that they enjoy doing. So when our students get that internship, get into that grad program, or nail the job interview, I am such a proud boss it is unbelievable.
What do you think is one part of the fan experience that COVID took away from us as fans that is essential to the continued growth and improvement of the fan experience as a whole?
COVID has been challenging in the collegiate sports business because it has taken away the final product from our fans and has disrupted the brand loop. We want kids to fall in love with Goldy, we want youth to dream of being a Gopher, we want college kids to fall in love with the campus and the gameday vibe, we want young professionals to come back to campus and relive the glory days, we want parents to bring their kids to events, and we want seniors to reinvest in what they once called home. However, how can little Jonny love Goldy if he never sees him? Alternatively, how can little Suzy meet her favorite women’s basketball player? COVID has taken away the end product from our fans which makes our job that much harder. We need to find a way to invest in our fans and get them to fall in love with our brand without every seeing them. In addition, fans only have the win/loss experience, not all of the added benefits that we could normally provide. I do think COVID will have long last effects on our business; we just need to see how drastic those effects are.
What has been the most groundbreaking project that you have been able to work on and what made that project so important to the industry?
The most worthy project would have to be our Gopher Gameday Live show that we produced this past fall around football. With COVID, we needed to find a way to still make good on sponsorships and engage fans. We decided to do a live stream that resembled a TV show along with our normal gameday activities. So we had a host where she delivered feature stories, made good on sponsor activities, interacted with fans and alumni, and then intermixed the live show with clips from the band, fans, highlights, and alumni. It was a toll trying to do both but overall feel that we made an impact, kept our sponsors (aka kept the money), and engaged fans.
Otherwise, I would say some best practices that we have implemented and have won awards on is by embracing the Minnesota community better. We had collaborated with Love Your Melon, a local business that donates 50% of proceeds to fight cancer, for a hat and ticket deal, we are working with local youth groups and bringing student athletes to them, and we are trying to stand out amongst all of the pro teams in town by featuring the college space.
What has your experience been like as a woman in sports? Do you see teams and universities improving on and balancing out such a male dominated industry?
I think that athletic departments know they need to make changes, but I feel that they need to do more than the bare minimum to help make a change. Right now, I believe that departments are good about hiring women at the entry-level point as interns or Assistant Directors. However, when I am in a men’s basketball meeting, I am the only woman in the room. When my coworker is in a men’s hockey meeting, she is the only woman in the room. On top of that, we are the ones with the lowest titles where our colleagues range from Associate Directors to Associate ADs. In addition, I feel like there are not as many women up the ladder that I can look for as a mentor. I do feel that some schools do a better job of promoting women than others, and that it will take time and effort from those currently in power to make positive changes in department cultures.
Do you have any advice for those of us looking to break into the industry? What worked for you or any of your colleagues?
I am a Type A person and really struggled with the fact that getting into sports isn’t like getting a finance job. There is no clear path and no one path is the only path. I had originally thought that I needed a master’s to get into collegiate sports, however, I never found a program that fit for me. This group has many connections to Ohio University and their dual degree program, which is great for some, but it wasn’t for me. Athens was so small and some of the case studies the students were working on were ones that I already did for my undergrad classes. I just didn’t fit. I then applied to other schools thinking I could find the place where I belong and couldn’t find a program that would let me work and get the degree I wanted. Therefore, I said f-it, and applied to internships and got a full time, two-year internship with Ohio State. I did eventually get my master’s last summer here at Minnesota and could not be happier with my choice. I would advise you all to find what works for you and to not be afraid if it’s not what everyone else is doing.
Do you see yourself ever leaving the industry? If so, why and for what career path?
I tell everyone that I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. I try my best to enjoy what I am doing until I don’t enjoy it anymore, and then it’s time to move on. My now husband had moved with me from Wisconsin to Ohio, to North Carolina, and now to Minnesota where we have finally set up roots. For me, it would be really hard to move on to a different University that will probably be farther away from home (since Adam and Kevin are never leaving Wisconsin). Therefore, I am open to the idea of leaving athletics if it’s the right opportunity, which could be with some other department on campus or a corporate entity where I could flex my marketing and branding skills.
#SportsBiz Badgers on the Move
Jeff Jurgella -> President, Beloit Snappers
Brett Baur -> VP of Partnerships and Hospitality Sales, Pittsburgh Pirates
Ryan Schulman -> Associate Director of Development, Gator Boosters
Quintin Lash -> Trading Analyst, Sportradar
SBC Member Involvement
Drew Kocken, Olivia Hancock, and Samaria Bruce
UW Side Hustle Society
Alex Becker, Nikholas Parker, and Danny Tabaska
Sports Broadcast Journal
College Basketball Power Hour
The Boardroom University
February Events Recap
February 10th - SBC Spring Kickoff
February 16th - NFL Partnerships w/ Mitchell Pinta
February 17th - Sports Cards and Entrepreneurship w/ Aaron Nowak
February 22nd - Sports Communication Q&A w/ Matt Hermann
February 24th - Sports Agency Fair