UCCS Sports Management Students Score Partnership With Professional Team | Economic news
UCCS sports management students now have the opportunity to gain real-world work experience with organizations such as the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Rapids.
The university recently expanded a longstanding partnership with Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, the Denver-based sports, real estate and media holding company that owns the Nuggets, Rapids, Colorado Avalanche and other businesses. at national scale. It allows students to pursue their own research through semester-long assignments with some of the most prominent sports organizations in the Centennial State.
It is a partnership that has been in the making for years. Eric Olson, acting dean of the UCCS College of Business and Administration and longtime director of the school’s sports management program, began laying the groundwork for the partnership more than a decade ago.
Olson began working with English Premier League football clubs in 2005, eventually collaborating with club CEOs so his sports management students could complete work placements abroad. Around this time he met Tim Hinchey, who was heading to England to take up a managerial role at English Football League Championship club Derby FC.
Olson and Hinchey stayed in touch, and when Hinchey finally returned years later, he took over as president of the Colorado Rapids.
“We had this little connection, so we started talking about the possibility of a football track [in the sport management program] and work as partners,” Olson said. “It took several years for that to materialize, but we finally formed a partnership with the Rapids.”
The partnership with the Rapids lasted several years. It was great for UCCS students to get work experience at a Major League soccer club, Olson said, but since they had to go to Denver and the partnership was limited to soccer, it “just didn’t work”.
So, in subsequent conversations, UCCS and KSE agreed to a six-year contractual partnership that will see up to 12 sports management students per semester explore career opportunities in a wide range of sports industries in Colorado, including including the Nuggets and Avalanche.
Unlike an unstructured general internship with a sports team, in which students might be relegated to pouring sodas into concession stands or performing low-level grunt work, the new partnership with KSE provides students with an experience of work that matches their specific interests and skills, as well as the needs of the KSE entity they will be working for.
“That’s the idea – to try to match the needs of the clubs with the interests of the students,” Olson said. “So students may be interested in ticket sales, they may be interested in event management, or in partnerships and sponsorships… there are all these different areas.
“The club will talk to their top managers and middle managers and say, ‘So what do we need? What information do we need? What can we use?’ And they’ll write a description of what they’re looking for, and then we’ll introduce those opportunities to students.
To avoid a tedious commute to Denver, the new partnership allows students to complete much of the program remotely, traveling to Denver only a handful of times to meet with their project supervisors, watch games and present results. of their independent research project.
UCCS senior Patrick Miller was the first to complete the program since its implementation this fall.
Miller and his project supervisors with the Rapids discussed his interest in research and data evaluation, and devised a project in which he would assess the relationships between the Rapids, their current sponsors, and sponsors the organization might want to target in the future.
“They said, ‘It’s right up your alley. Make the most of it and if you find anything else that could improve it, let us know. But go for it,” Miller recalled.
Miller spent 5-7 hours a week evaluating and researching sponsorships through an online data platform called SponsorUnited.
“SponsorUnited is this sports partnership platform, so I could walk in and say, ‘Oh, the [New York] The Yankees teamed up with these people’ and, ‘The [Boston] The Red Sox partnered with these people ‘…and just see who everyone sponsored with, including minor league teams, concert halls and things like that,” Miller said. “So my goal was to find the best targets in each category. You can review it from food sponsors, retailers, insurance companies and things like that. And I could sort of pick the top 10 targets in each category for rapids and then present that information to them…”
At the end of the semester, Miller gave a presentation on his findings, detailing the top two potential partners for each sponsorship category.
His project supervisors, UCCS sports management program managers and some KSE executives attended the presentation.
“I was able to present my findings to everyone,” Miller said. “So KSE as a whole could see what I was doing. And being a senior works really well because I’m looking for a job, so I was able to show them that I’m capable of doing some of the things that they do. That’s why I really enjoy the internship.
But it’s not just students who benefit from the program. Because KSE staff help guide student projects from inception, they also stand to gain from experience.
In Miller’s case, Olson said KSE representatives were already planning to implement some of his ideas.
And while the newly revamped partnership with KSE is the first of its kind for the university, it’s not the only way UCCS sports management students can gain work experience while earning their degrees. .
Alumni have worked with minor league teams like the Rocky Mountain Vibes and Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, college teams including those at the Air Force Academy and Colorado College, and the United States Olympic Committee .
But with so many incoming students primarily interested in the showpiece part of the industry – the big league professional teams – Olson knows the new partnership will be a huge draw for program participants and a way for UCCS to supplement its offers at all levels of sports enterprise.
“When we talk specifically about KSE, the No. 1 interest of young people is in professional sports,” Olson said. “So that adds to our program. We now have the collegiate, we have the professional, we have the Olympic movement, parks and recreational type opportunities, and then we also have the international – mainly football.
“So we think we’re really well rounded and giving students the best opportunities academically and experience-wise, frankly, I think anywhere in the country.”