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Students gain high-pressure consulting experience from San Diego Sports Consulting Project

Tuesday, July 12 2016 12:00am

Sports Administration graduate and undergraduate students team up to pitch consulting projects.

College of Business Sports Management undergraduate students and Sports Administration graduate students recently returned from California where they worked with students from DePaul University, The University of Iowa, and Deakin University to serve as consultants on projects for nine sports industry clients in the San Diego market.

“This is truly a unique experience for students,” said Annie Brackley, sports administration instructor and vice president of the Copperheads organization. “While many students head home for the summer, these graduate and undergraduate students put in the extra hours to gain real-world experience. It’s inspiring to see our students working together.”

Project coordinators Brackley and Jim Kahler, executive director of the AECOM Center for Sports Administration, organized a weeklong boot camp and oversaw the consulting teams in San Diego.

“The students displayed immense personal and professional growth during the three weeks of this project. In week one, we host boot camp to expose students to the consulting process and help prepare them to execute their best work in San Diego,” said Kahler. “I’m proud of each and every one of the students.”

In its sixth year, the San Diego Sports Consulting Project has given students the opportunity to conduct research, develop business strategies, and pitch their findings to sports industry clients.

“We had the opportunity to work with sports management students from all levels of experience and backgrounds,” said Kelley Johnson, ’17 MSA/MBA dual-degree student. “As a team manager, it was rewarding to guide the undergraduate students through the consulting project from start to finish. This project truly adds value to our education as it allows us to gain practical, hands-on sports business experience.”

Johnson was one of nine graduate students from Ohio University who was paired with a graduate student from another university to lead a team of four to five undergraduate students. The student consulting teams developed ticketing, sponsorship, and social media proposals for several sports-related companies including the San Diego Padres, Competitor Group, the National Sports Forum, Aztec Sports Properties, the ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter, PGA Farmers Insurance Open, the San Diego Gulls, and Connexions Sport & Entertainment.

Sixty students from the four universities worked 14-16 hour days to complete their consulting projects within the tight, two-week deadline; a task that takes many consulting companies months to complete. 

“The real-world experience of working on a tight deadline was extremely valuable,” said Michael Pelfrey, ’17 MSA/MBA dual-degree student. “It was so rewarding seeing all of our hard work come together during the presentation, but it was even more rewarding to receive positive feedback from our instructors and client.”

After two weeks in San Diego, the students’ hard work paid off. Before the flight took off for Ohio, Katie Foglia, ’17 MSA student, noticed her client, Competitor Group, had already begun implementing their team’s social media strategy for the national Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon event.

“The SDSCP stretched us to our limits, but I am so proud of our team and the final product that was presented to the client,” Foglia said. “I can’t think of another student experience that provides both graduates and undergraduates the opportunity to serve as consultants on top-level projects. I’m grateful to now be an alumna of the SDSCP.”