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Featured Professor on
Name: Dr. William A. Sutton
Current Job Title: Director/Professor Sport and Entertainment Management MBA program
School Name: University of South Florida

Did you ever work in the sports industry? If so, how did you land your first job orinternship?

I worked for 3 years as VP of a sport marketing agency and spent 6 years as VP Team Marketing & Business Operations at the NBA – I started out at the NBA working for Commissioner Stern while on sabbatical from UMass

What advice would you give to students looking to make sports their career?

Remember that you work where other people come to play and that you are working while they are playing. Understand that upon graduation – the sport industry will pay significantly less than other business opportunities – also work for a great person – the name on the door is often a better indicator that the team name

When trying to select a post graduate program, what advice would you give a prospective student?

Look at the faculty and determine their interest in you as a person and a student. You are buying the faculty as well as the institution – evaluate their track record placing students and ask to speak to some of their alumni. Interview the faculty as they would interview you – don’t be too intimidated to ask good questions. Visit the campus and meet with some of the current students.

What are the main selection criteria you consider when selecting students to be admitted into your program?

Looking for students that are passionate and excited about working in sport. Excellent communication skills (written and oral) and able to relate well to people. Some work experience and maturity. An idea about what they want to do – marketing, sales analytics rather than just wanting to work in sports. The ability to put their fandom aside and understand that sports is a business first,

How important is it for students to do an internship before they graduate? What advice would you give a student looking to select a sports internship?

Work experience is critical to being to land a position in sport. The internship is really an audition to showcase your skills and see how you do in the work setting. Chemistry is a major consideration in hiring so an internship lets people determine how you would fit in with thecurrent employees. An internship also gives students a peek behind the curtain – they get to see what working in sports is really about – what is it like working a 9 game home stand in baseball – and eating most of your meals at the ball park? The internship is a two way mirror – letting the student see what the world looks like and letting the organization see the student as a prospective employee.

What are the main challenges that sports specific academic programs face over the next 3-5 years?

Very simply stated – differentiation – how do they differ from each other? How do they differ in how they prepare their students? How do they differ in how their graduates are perceived by the industry? The second big issue is accountability and placement – are they accountable to their students and the parents of those students to make a realistic attempt to place the students that have given their time and money to the University.

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