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MSA Tobacco Road Trip

Tuesday, March 8 2016 05:00pm

Annual trip to North Carolina provides a link between the past and the future of the MSA program

Carolina Basketball Museum

By Todd Moore (MSA '16)

What began as a spring break networking trip for students in the 1990s has grown into an annual tradition and a rite of passage for Master of Sports Administration students. For over 20 years now, Doc Higgins has led a group of MSA students on a series of facility tours and seminars from Ohio University Sports Administration alumni. The trip is always changing and growing, but the MSA Class of 2016 can attest that it is as unforgettable as ever. 

After the Sunday bus ride, the trip kicked off Monday morning in Winston-Salem, meeting with Joe Potter ('89) and the team at IMG College headquarters, the nation’s leading collegiate sports marketing company. Joe presented on the history of intercollegiate athletics mutlimedia rights sales, and how IMG is meeting the challenges of the ever-more competitive industry segment. Students were also taken on a behind the scenes tour of the IMG College Radio network. From their studios in Winston-Salem IMG produces radio broadcasts for its client insitutions across the nation. 

The next stop in Winston-Salem was Deacon Tower at BB&T Stadium, the home of Wake Forest University Football. The tour was made possible by Gary Pasqualicchio (MSA '16), a 2012 graduate of Wake Forest. The tower opened prior to the 2008 season and houses luxury suites, club seats and boxes for the University President, home and visiting athletic directors, print and electronic media and coaching staffs.

"It was a great opportunity to revisit my alma mater and tour the Deacon Tower facilities. I gained a greater appreciation for what the school has added to its facilities since my graduation and enjoyed the behind-the scenes look at how Wake entertains donors," said Pasqualicchio.

About an hour away in Welcome, North Carolina, a new stop was added that will hopefully become a staple of the trip. At the headquarters of Richard Childress Racing, Jason Golden ('01) and Lauren Hoffman ('08) presented on the challenges and opportunities of business development and partnership marketing in NASCAR. Students' eyes were opened to a business that not many consider right our of school.

Richard Childress Racing"Our visit to Richard Childress Racing truly blew me away; Jason and Lauren were both welcoming and very forthright with information to help us learn. Seeing what it takes to run eight professional racing teams was breathtaking and for a non-NASCAR follower, it gave me a totally new appreciation for the sport and the business behind it. I hope that future classes get to visit RCR and it becomes a staple of the Tobacco Road trip; it was one of the most unique and memorable parts of our trip," said Eric Mayer ('16).

Tuesday was a day for basketball fans, starting off in Chapel Hill. Clint Gwaltney and Michael Beale (both class of '95) hosted students at the Carolina Basketball Museum for a morning Q&A. Gwaltney is a Senior Associate Athletic Director, and Beale the Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing at UNC-Chapel Hill. In less than two hours the two had just about every student reconsidering any career aspirations that weren't in college athletics.

Becca Hemby ('16) was particularly touched by the experience in Chapel Hill.

"One of my favorite moments was watching the senior night celebration at the Dean E. Smith Center. My classmates and I had actual tears in our eyes listening to the players and Roy Williams speak. It was one of those moments that you think this is why we want to work in sports," said Hemby.

After carefully stowing away any memoribilia that featured Carolina blue, the group made its way to Durham and Duke University's athletics campus for the afternoon and evening. There, the group was met by Mitch Moser ('90), Gina Rosser Bradley ('05), and friend of the program Johnny Moore. The facilities at Duke currently are undergoing extensive renovation and improvements. Even Cameron Indoor stadium was in the midst of getting a new *slightly detached* scaled lobby and entryway on its south end. When granted a few moments on the hallowed floor of the basketball cathedral, students took every opportunity to photograph their sports fan bucket list moment. 

The last full day in North Carolina was spent in Raleigh. Dr. Robb Wade ('87), who worked in the NC State athletic department for years and now directs the PGA Golf Management program at the university, acted as tour guide. A tour of Vaughn Towers and the Wendell H. Murphy Football Center at Carter-Finley Stadium were an impressive look at NC State's commitment to competing at a high level in football. Along the way Bobby Purcell, Executive Director of the Wolfpack Club, and Mark Walpole ('93), recently named Senior Sales Executive for Wolfpack Sports Properties offered career and life wisdom for students on the brink of starting their careers.

Across the way Dave Olson and Larry Perkins, part of the PNC Arena management team, gave a run down on the home of the Carolina Hurricans and NC State Men's Basketball. At the end of the day, students got to see the NC State Basketball team beat Boston College on a buzzer beating lay-up. 

Thursday morning also had the group in Raleigh. This time to tour the Raleigh Convention Center and Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Roger Krupa ('72) and Jimmy Lavery walked students through spaces that have hosted everything from high school basketball tournaments to comedians, and even the President of the United States. The group was sent off with a beautiful lunch courtesy of the team at the Duke Energy Center and a reminder to stay safe as the bus headed back through snowy West Virgina.

While the trip itself has become a defining feature of the MSA experience at Ohio University, it is the spirit of generosity and willingness of alumni to give back that continues to make it possible. 

See more photos from the trip in the recap below, or check out the album on our Facebook page.