An entrepreneurial spirit is crucial in the sports management world.
That was the overbearing message Bill Sutton from the University of South Florida, Andy Gillentine from the University of South Carolina and Curt Waugh from the San Diego Padres had for the students in the Sports Management Club at Oklahoma State University on Thursday night.
The main goal of the Sports Management Club is to connect sports management majors to professionals in the industry.
“It’s really pivotal for us to have a network outside of our school network to get into the industry and get a job,” said Cedrick Collier-Thomas, the president of the club. “Our main goal is to establish our network here.”
Many of the meetings are spent with guest speakers like Sutton, Gillentine and Waugh who can help the students find jobs in the future.
The three men are all alumni of Oklahoma State who went on to find success in the sports business world. Sutton became the vice president of team marketing and business operations for the NBA before starting the Sport and Entertainment Management program at the University of South Florida. Gillentine is a professor and associate dean in the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management at South Carolina University and is renowned for his knowledge of the sports management curriculum. Curt Waugh is the director of group tickets and hospitality for the San Diego Padres and formerly served as manager of ticket sales for the San Antonio Rampage.
The speakers emphasized the need for students to be innovative and find things that will help change the sports world.
“You trailblazers are going to have jobs that don’t even exist yet,” Sutton said. “Ten years ago, social media didn’t exist. Look at how many jobs that has created.”
They stressed the importance of always having new ideas and being flexible to new projects.
The students found the wise words of their guests useful.
“They gave us really good advice, like what we can expect, marketing, networking, resume, anything like that just to give us a little jump-start into our future career,” said Sam Brown, the marketing and advertising coordinator of the club.
Now, it’s up to the students to take the advice they got from their esteemed guests and apply it to their careers.
“I think the biggest thing is connecting with them and selling yourself, like they said, finding your skills and selling your brand,” said Jon Bowen, the club’s vice president. “Then, once that gets you in the door, you gave to do it. You have to work hard.”