College sports have been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching Drew Brees throw touchdowns at Ross-Ade Stadium and went on to cover college football for The Exponent, Gold and Black Illustrated and Sports Illustrated’s CampusRush.com.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that I was thrilled in March when second-year MBA students Doug Branson, Hitesh Kamra and David Rennard invited me to partake in the College Sport Research Institute’s Case Competition at the University of South Carolina. The case required us to create a plan to compensate NCAA student-athletes – a hot topic for a number of years.
My team and I had casually followed the events around the issue but unrooted many more concerns in our research than we had previously considered. How do you define fair market value for these college athletes? How can you keep them committed to academics? How do you maintain competitive equity between different schools and financial equity between revenue and non-revenue athletes? What role does Title IX play? Are student-athletes getting the same educational experience as the rest of the student body? Taking these issues into account along with the various desires of the NCAA, universities, and student-athletes made it a challenging issue to tackle. A feasible and fair plan that appeased all stakeholders was no easy task.
The conference’s guest speakers included faculty from the top sports management programs around the country, lawyers specializing in collegiate athletics, and former NCAA student-athletes and coaches. Topics stretched far beyond compensating student-athletes into areas such as spending vs. winning for Division I football programs and organizational effectiveness in collegiate athletics. We learned a lot about the inner workings of the system and look forward to following all of the inevitable change in forthcoming years.
Competing in the College Sports Research Institute case competition made me even more proud to be a member of the Krannert MBA program. Krannert supported us every step of the way and KPDC’s Claudine Meilink even flew down to help us prepare and watch us present. As the only non-sports management program represented, we felt grateful to have had the opportunity to attend.
It was a week to remember in Columbia, South Carolina. Having the opportunity to sharpen my problem-solving and presentation skills in a topic I have a special interest in provided me an experience I’ll cherish for a lifetime.
2nd year MBA