Insights from the Real World of Sports Entertainment

From left are Jorge Posada, Jr.; Steve Bashore, general manager at Buffalo Run Casino & Resort and a member of the Sport Industry Leadership Council; School of Education and Human Development Professor Erin McNary; Jorge and Laura Posada; and SEHD Professors Paul Resnick and Ty Martin.

By Richard Westlund

From left are Jorge Posada, Jr.; Steve Bashore, general manager at Buffalo Run Casino & Resort and a member of the Sport Industry Leadership Council; School of Education and Human Development Professor Erin McNary; Jorge and Laura Posada; and SEHD Professors Paul Resnick and Ty Martin.

Insights from the Real World of Sports Entertainment

By Richard Westlund
UM's Global Entertainment + Sport Conference brings top athletes, broadcasters and professionals to campus.

Collegiate sports provides great preparation for the real world, according to Maria Taylor, co-host of ESPN’s College GameDay. “You learn how to fail fast, get over your mistakes and move on,” she said. “Sports also gives you an understanding of the importance of practice, motivating your teammates and becoming a leader.”

Taylor was one of the high-profile broadcasters, athletes, entrepreneurs and sports professionals who addressed University of Miami students and alumni at the “Global Entertainment + Sport Conference” on April 5-6 at the Shalala Student Center.  Other noted speakers included former Major League Baseball All Star Jorge Posada, his wife, Laura, and Morgan Pressel, a veteran of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour. 

More than 400 students and alumni took part in the conference, which was organized by the School of Law's Entertainment and Sports Law Society and the School of Education and Human Development’s Sport Administration Program, and sponsored by University of Miami Athletics, and UOnline, which hosts the online master’s program in sport administration. 

"We want to provide real-world learning and networking opportunities for our students," said Erin L. McNary, assistant professor in the SEHD Department of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences (KIN), who joined Greg Levy, associate dean of the School of Law and deputy director of its Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Program, in welcoming attendees to the conference, which featured 12 sessions ranging from e-sports to event ticketing, athlete activism, stadium development, team legal counsel and risk management.

“This is a great partnership, bringing top minds in law and business here for you,” said Professor Windy Dees, of the Department of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences, before introducing Laura Harris, a former UM student who is now an award-winning broadcast journalist and co-anchor at WFTS ABC Action News Tampa.

“Sports is my passion,” said Harris, who conducted the interview with Taylor on her successes and missteps in sports broadcasting. Noting that her first audition for ESPN was terrible, Taylor said, “I could have given up, but I knew this was the next step in my career path, so I kept coming back.”  

Taylor also talked about Winning Edge Academy, a foundation she created to increase diversity in the sports industry. “I want young people to be able to see themselves in whatever role they choose in life,” she said. 

A panel discussion on “Risk Management in the NCAA” featured four women who serve as athletic directors: UM’s Jenn Strawley, deputy director of athletics/chief operating officer; Samantha Huge, athletics director at William and Mary College; Victoria Chun, director of athletics at Colgate University; and Darrice Griffin, deputy athletic director at the University of Georgia. 

“There are many different paths to sit in these chairs,” said Strawley. “You need to keep looking ahead and take advantage of opportunities that become available in your career.”

For athletic directors, “no two days are the same,” said Huge, who encouraged students to stay true to their personal values. “Our goal is to provide support for our student athletes, including providing a world-class education and developing leadership skills so they can have lives of impact,” she added. 

Ali Kicklighter, manager of player development for the LPGA, moderated a session on “Legal and Business Issues Impacting the LPGA Tour,” with Pressel; Heather Daly-Donofrio, chief tournament operations and communications officer; and Liz Moore, chief legal officer. 

Pressel, a two-time LPGA tournament winner now in her 13th season, established a foundation to assist in the fight against breast cancer.  “I turned pro at 17 and didn’t go to college,” Pressel said. “Now, I am proud to give back to our sport and serve on the board of the longest-running female sports organization in the country.”

Other sessions included a talk on “The New Tax Code: Implications for Athletes, Sports Properties and Affiliates,” by Tony Argiz, chairman and chief operating officer, MBAF; a panel discussion on the “Future of Ticketing at Events and Games,” moderated by Mackie Feierstein, assistant athletic director, ticket sales at UM; and a discussion of “Esports and the Future of the Most Intriguing New Vertical in Sports.”

Wrapping up the first day’s session, Peter Carfagna, chairman and CEO of Magis, LLC and director of Miami Law's Sports Law Track Program, and his wife, Rita, presented the Dean’s Writing Award to third-year law student Josh Mandel. 

Blake James, UM director of athletics, thanked both schools for hosting the conference. “This is a great opportunity for our students to get to know professionals in the sports and entertainment industries,” he said. “We hope the sessions will also help you develop your leadership skills in whatever career you choose.”