Four graduate students from the College of Business at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln traveled to Frisco, Texas, for the National Sports Forum (NSF). The forum brings sports industry professionals together for education surrounding four pillars. These pillars are sponsorship sales, business development, ticket sales, and marketing and fan engagement. Additionally, select university students attend and compete against other graduate programs in a sports marketing related case in a 24-hour challenge.
“We think of this annual gathering as one big family reunion,” said NSF President Ron Seaver. “The unofficial motto of NSF is ‘friends don’t let friends stay unemployed.’ This industry is all about relationships, and everywhere you look you see professionals talking like they are long lost best friends catching up after another year of hard work. The National Sports Forum has provided countless networking and career ascension stories for people each year.”
For the fourth year in a row, Nebraska sent four students to attend the forum and participate in the competition against 10 to 14 other graduate programs. This year, first-year master of arts in business with a specialization in intercollegiate athletic administration (MAIAA) students Ryan Christy of Orange City, Iowa; E.J. Stevens of Apple Valley, Minnesota; and Amanda Van Duyn of Kenosha, Wisconsin; teamed with MBA student Ellen Brown of Vermillion, South Dakota. The team was coached by College of Business Associate Dean Tammy Beck, and second-year MAIAA student Lorie Garnett, from Manteca, California.
“Competing in the NSF Case Cup competition was a challenging but extremely rewarding experience,” said Van Duyn. “It was difficult being on such a tight deadline and having to work through the case in 24 straight hours. We were going off of limited sleep and had to present to a panel of experts in a fashion that was both clear and engaging. I learned a ton about the sports industry, made amazing connections and in the end had one of the best learning experiences of my graduate career.”
On Saturday morning, each of the teams received their case and the 24-hour clock began ticking down. The case focused on professional golf, tasking the students with creating an integrated marketing and communications plan to help millennials engage with the PGA Tour and promote diversity within the sport.
After the 24-hour clock expired, the students consulted the panel of four industry professionals with their ideas in a 20-minute presentation. They presented two recommended solutions, laid out their timeline to carry out their plan and described the utilization of their theoretical $5 million marketing budget.
“The NSF provided an unforgettable experience for us as graduate students,” said Stevens. “The 24-hour case cup competition tested our ability to collaborate as a team, think critically and work in a fast-paced environment similar to conditions in the sports industry. Also, the networking aspect of the forum was invaluable as I met several industry professionals who I hope to stay connected with as I begin searching for full-time employment after graduation next year. I can't say enough great things about this opportunity.”
To learn more about the MBA and MAIAA programs at Nebraska, visit business.unl.edu/gradprograms.