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OHIO Sports Ad well-represented at the NCAA Emerging Leaders Seminar

Friday, February 24 2017 12:00am

The NCAA Emerging Leaders Seminar (ELS) is an annual event hosted at the NCAA National Office in Indianapolis, Ind. The three-day program focuses on developing leadership skills, educating participants on the various professional fields within intercollegiate athletics, and serves as a networking platform for connecting attendees to peers and professionals working in the NCAA membership.

Written by: Jamilah Ali, Kabrione Coleman, Kelley Ford, Alec Koondel, Brian MurphyIan Ousley and Pim Thirati.

On Jan. 25, the Bobcats travelling from Ohio University to Indianapolis arrived and were excited for what was in store for the next three days. The first few hours after arrival consisted of checking in, taking headshots and meeting the other 220 participants chosen to be a part of the seminar. After a welcome speech, participants were sent off to breakout rooms to go over the DiSC Assessments that had been completed weeks prior. 

The DiSC Assessment is a tool used to understand people’s behavioral types in order to help increase self-knowledge and facilitate better teamwork. Each person had a packet that laid out what behavior types they demonstrate; these types consisted of Dominance, influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. While the “D” type displays competitive and results-oriented behavior, the “S” type places emphasis primarily on cooperation and sincerity. The “C” type characterizes those who are analytical and systematic, and the “i” type represents people who are outgoing and highly social. 

It was very interesting how just a few questions can identify an entire personality. In fact, in multiple breakout rooms, there was not one person who found their individual assessment to be inaccurate. Once participants went over their assessments, all ELS participants were assigned to a team comprised of 10-12 people and given a case study to analyze. This is when the fun really began.

It was the responsibility of each team to plan the events of homecoming week for a fictional institution, Sunshine State University. Responsibilities included: developing a marketing and communications operations plan, providing a facilities and operations plan, developing and organizing a men’s and women’s soccer alumni reception, creating an academic improvement plan and developing a major community service event. In addition, it was required that these tasks comply with regulations regarding donor/student-athlete interactions. All of these initiatives were required to coordinate with the Business & Finance office to develop a budget for homecoming week.

With approximately 24 hours to prepare, many groups worked on their projects well after leaving the NCAA National Office and into the early hours of morning. Each group was to prepare a presentation, which were given first-thing Friday morning, to distinguished members within the sport industry. This panel of “judges” would then provide feedback on the presented plan, drawing from decades of experience in intercollegiate athletics. This activity not only provided hands-on learning, but also served to illustrate how individuals with different personalities, and leadership styles (DiSC), can work together to achieve a common goal.

Thursday morning's festivities began with an appearance by Oliver Luck, the Executive VP of NCAA Regulatory Affairs, who talked to participants about the current state of the NCAA. Luck gave the attendants insight into the importance of student-athlete well-being and how the NCAA continues to maintain the integrity of higher education and college athletics. Luck also provided a brief history lesson on how President Theodore Roosevelt initiated the integration of athletics into scholastics, thereby creating the framework for college athletics today.

Another engaging component of ELS came on Thursday afternoon in the form of functional area breakout sessions. Before attending the seminar, the NCAA sent out a survey for everyone to fill out pertaining to their current jobs and career interests. The options included: Development & Fundraising, Academics & Life Skills, Compliance, Marketing & Communications, Business & Finance, Facilities & Event Management. 

The breakout sessions were based on the results of the survey, with the first session being the area you are currently working in and the second session being the area you want to learn more about. In the first breakout session, there was panel of professionals in the specific department to answer questions and have discussion about their career. The second breakout session was a presentation from an industry professional about what exactly he or she does. The breakout sessions were very informative and allowed attendees of the seminar to learn more about different department in intercollegiate athletics.   

On the last day of the seminar, we had the privilege of hearing from two very powerful women in the sports industry. First, we heard from Felicia Martin, former Senior Associate AD at Texas Tech University and newly appointed VP of the NCAA Eligibility Center. The topic of discussion was how to develop a road map for professional steps and career development. The presentation started off with the emphasis on knowing your why and your values and staying true to them. She encouraged attendees to take their time to craft their own mission statement that guides their actions and career path. 

Following Martin, we heard from Meg Stevens, Athletic Director at Averett University. Being the AD at a DIII institution, Stevens wears many hats and can interact with her student-athletes on a more personal level. She emphasized that the reason we are in this industry is to serve the student-athletes. Sometimes we may get so caught up in the “business” and the revenue generating side that we lose sight of why we are in this industry in the first place.

The talk was capped off with an exercise on building paper airplanes and attempting to fly them. The paper airplanes were a metaphor for our career paths. They may take a variety of different shapes and it may not go as far as you wanted on our first trial. But the beauty of it is that we can pick them back up, rebuild them, and try again. There is no doubt that everyone in attendance was very moved and inspired by the personal stories Felicia and Meg shared with us. 

Outside of the official ELS programming, attendees tend to be focused on meeting industry professionals and exchanging business cards with the speakers and NCAA employees. One of the most underrated aspects of ELS is the fact that there are 220 total attendees, most of which are in the same situation and share similar aspirations. It was immediately apparent that the most important part of ELS was networking with the other attendees and building relationships that may last an entire career.

The attendees were mostly made up of Graduate Assistants, Interns, and Masters candidates from Divison I, II, and III schools all around the country. Each person had their own story of how they got to where they are today, and where they aspire to go. It was fascinating to meet these people and plant the first seed of what certainly will be meaningful personal and professional relationships for many years to come. There is no doubt that many of the attendees at ELS will work together, hire each other, and rub elbows down the road in collegiate athletics. 

Following ELS, the crew from OHIO began a short weekend of networking with alumni of the OHIO Sports Administration program. This began with a lunch with Kate Broshears (MSA '15), Director of Development & Communications, Ascend Indiana and Kevin Lennon (MSA '85), VP of NCAA Academic & Membership Affairs, at a local sports bar.

To cap-off a great week in Indianapolis, the MSA '18s met up with Sports Ad Alumnus, Marty Bechtold (MSA '87), Director of Booking, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, at the Indianapolis Pacers game on Friday night. Thanks to Bechtold, the OHIO Family enjoyed a nice evening as the Pacers put on a thrilling performance to upend the Sacramento Kings in overtime. 

The following day, four students from the original crew (Alec, Brian, Ian, and Pim) traveled an hour south to Bloomington, Ind. Upon arrival the MSA '18s met up with four current Indiana Athletics employees and fellow “Bobcats in Bloomington” at Yogi’s Bar & Restaurant – an iconic IU sports bar and a local favorite.

Beau Bauer (MSA '11), Director of Development, Major Gifts, Kevin Van Rooy (MSA '06), Senior Assistant AD, Revenue Generation, Eric Neuberger (MSA '04), Associate AD for Facilities & External Alliances, and Becky Pany (PMSA '16) Assistant AD for Operations & Sport Administration, all gathered with the current Sports Ad students to share stories of Athens and their experience in college athletics. 

The next day, Neuberger gave the four MSA '18s an extensive tour of the Memorial Stadium, Assembly Hall, the Academic Center, the Performance Center, Cook Hall, and the Golf Facilities. The tour concluded at University Gym, where the visiting Bobcats watched the Hoosiers take on Ian’s alma mater, the University of Nebraska, in wrestling.

The trip to Indianapolis, and later Bloomington, was certainly a trip worthwhile for all involved. The professional growth and networking that occurred resulted in a great experience and expanded professional opportunities. We recommend the Emerging Leaders Seminar to all who have the opportunity to attend!