Ross hosts virtual sports business event to connect students, industry leaders

Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 12:32pm

Baron Davis and Brandon Rhodes talk during a panel on Wednesday.

Baron Davis and Brandon Rhodes talk during a panel on Wednesday. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Sofia Urban

The eighth annual Michigan Sports Business Conference — a collaboration between the Ross School of Business and the School of Kinesiology’s Sport Management program — will run through Friday. The three-day virtual event consisted of keynote speakers, panels and recruiting events, bringing more than 1,700 attendees. 

Karlie Stanford, marketing manager of MSBC and Kinesiology junior, said the main goal of the conference is to bring together professionals and students. Stanford also said the conference has dozens of keynote speakers this year to allow for many different people to share their stories. 

“The conference is to create opportunities for students who would like to, one day, work in the sports, media and entertainment industries,” Stanford said. “We hope that attendees meet new people, learn more about different aspects of the sports, media and entertainment industries, and leave the conference with more interests and opportunities than when they had before.”

The conference, which historically has occurred in person, switched to a virtual platform in order to accommodate the safety measures mandated by the University. Last year, the conference hosted 800 students and sports business professionals. Since the conference’s founding in 2012, it has grown to be the largest undergraduate-run sports business conference in the country. 

Business junior Madison Springer, vice president of team relations in MSBC, said there were both challenges and rewards to hosting a virtual conference. Springer said virtual events create more accessibility and inclusivity. 

“Switching to a virtual platform has definitely expanded our reach this year,” Springer said. “For the first time ever, we were able to make our conference free of charge and therefore more accessible to attendees all over the country.

Keynote speakers ranged from entrepreneurial athlete Baron Davis to sports business executives including Jessica Berman from the National Lacrosse League. Keynote speaker Carlos Fleming, a partner at William Morris Endeavor who serves as the head of its sports talent group, discussed how athletes and teams must be socially aware.

“There’s an inherent obligation for all of us,” Fleming said. “We all have a responsibility to give back to the people that are helping us.”

Susan Cohig, executive vice president for National Hockey League’s Club Business Affairs, explained her unconventional path to sports business. She explained how her work with the Denver Nuggets & Colorado Avalanche impacted her transition from media to business.

“Get to something you don’t know about,” Cohig said. “Get uncomfortable. It is so important to be flexible, and being able to pivot is crucial.”

Cohig emphasized the importance of personal engagement within the sports media and business communities. 

“We are members of our communities,” Cohig said. “It is those connections between radio listeners and fans to sports teams that impacts people’s lives.”

Daily Staff Reporter Sofia Urban can be reached at urbanso@umich.edu.


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