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MSA Alumni Q&A: Justin Hunt (MSA ‘10)

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A graduate of Ohio University’s Master of Sports Administration program in 2010, Justin Hunt is a licensed attorney, certified sports agent, sports consultant and author. He is the founder of J.H. Strategists, a sports consulting firm with a central focus on maximizing performance for athletes and sports business professionals alike.

Hunt has recently published his first book, “From Mascot to Agent and Everything in Between: Career Guidance from 11 Sports Executives I Met During My Journey Into Sports,” which highlights the careers of 11 high-level executives occupying very different roles in the sports industry. 

Here is an excerpt from a Q&A with Hunt on his book, background, career in sports and time at OHIO:

Q: Talk a little about your background, what led you to OHIO and to ultimately publishing “From Mascot to Agent”:

I applied to Capital University Law School hoping that I would be accepted into the joint degree program JD/MSA between Capital and Ohio University. I was fortunate to be accepted in my second year of law school. After I received my law degree from Capital in 2009, I went right down to Athens for the MSA portion of the program. I knew a little about the industry and that I wanted to get some experience on the team side before I went the sports agent route. While I was at OHIO, I had exposure to the Sports Ad Bible (Alumni Directory) and started contacting people hoping to get a salary cap/ legal role with a NFL team. I graduated and moved back to Columbus in June of 2010 and worked a legal job for a year, continued to network and was offered a three-to-six-month position with the San Francisco 49ers in a salary cap role. After that, I went back to Columbus and became certified as a NFL agent in October of 2012. I practice law, represent professional athletes and coaches and, just recently, became a published author. 

Q: Going off your book title, when did you work as a mascot?

When I was a student at OHIO, the mascot cancelled and everybody was running around trying to figure out what to do, so I volunteered and put the mascot outfit on. It’s funny, the book makes it sound like I was a mascot for a living, but what I’m trying to get across in the title is that there are so many different roles in sports. It ranges from the mascot, which is the most committed to an organization in my opinion, to the agent, which is perceived as anti-team. So I was Rufus during the Bobcats’ 2010 Spring football game.

Q: Have you always wanted to publish a book?

I’m pretty self-motivated, so I put together a list of 100 things I will accomplish in my lifetime. It’s not a bucket list. It is a list that helps me navigate my professional goals and serves as a reminder to enjoy life and live it to the fullest while I am pursuing my professional goals. One of the things on my list was “publish a book.” After I auditioned as Rufus, I kind of made a joke to some friends when I graduated and we were celebrating out in San Diego. I said, “It would be cool to write a book about my journey that lies ahead, whatever that journey might entail. I could call it ‘From Mascot to Agent and Everything In Between.’” And that’s when it stuck. So that was in August of 2011, and then I started thinking about how I could make it work. 

Q: Talk about the background and work that went into publishing the book:

First, I realized that I needed something that would appeal to the masses. My first priority was making sure I talked to enough people in different roles to understand each position in the industry. So I planned trips, went to dinners and sporting events. And then after I did that, I started moving forward with finding an editor and a graphic designer. The last step was getting people like John Clayton, Jason La Canfora and Adam Schefter to read it, tweet about it and give a quote for the cover. It is available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, and schools across the country are slowly weaving FMTA into their curriculums. 

Q: In addition to the book, what else have you been working on career-wise?

I am a licensed, practicing attorney in the State of Ohio. I most recently launched my company, J.H. Strategist, which focuses on representation, career guidance via speaking engagements and executive coaching. 

Q: What are some of the key takeaways from the book?

It is tough to spend four years writing something and then narrow it down to a few points, but here goes! 

  1. You must understand your strengths and weaknesses before you pursue your passion. Every professional, regardless of the industry, should understand their strengths and then understand how their strengths can align with whatever they’re passionate about. 
  2. You have to develop a plan before you get started. I am a big proponent of my Next Level List, which teaches readers how to identify the milestones they must meet in order to accomplish their primary career objective.
  3. The key to being a good networker is approaching someone without an agenda or an immediate need. Networking is sales, with the product being you. The best time to approach executives and sports professionals is while you are a student or professional early in your career, before the “job hunt” begins. 
  4. Enjoy the journey – don’t get so worked up and/or overwhelmed with rejections and hiccups along the way that you forget to enjoy every moments. You will learn more from your failures than you will from your successes. The life lessons learned from failure are easily overlooked and they shouldn’t be.  

Q: How did your time at OHIO prepare you for a career in sports?

I would say that what OHIO did better than any other program I’ve been through is that it exposes its students to different roles, events and experiences in sports. I had to set up the Ohio Football games, coordinate the marketing for initiatives and travel to events around the country. I had very little interest in these areas, but it provided me with a well-rounded understanding of the industry and gave me content – a story to tell in interviews and discussions with professionals in the industry. 

Q: What is next for you in the sports industry?

Currently, I am enjoying the fact that I actually finished my book and published “From Mascot To Agent And Everything In Between.” I am marketing my book and doing everything I can to spread the word, so please follow me on Twitter (@jhstrategists) or LinkedIn and recommend FMTA to anyone with an interest in sports. I plan to take professional representation to the next level, and what that entails is currently in the works. 

For more information on the OHIO MSA program, click HERE.