Sport Management continues to excel

Jessica Dickhut (from left), Megan Tews, Dannon Anderson, Zach Roberts and Aaron Broege represent Loras’ Sport Management Program and the annual national conference.

To say that Loras’ Sport Management Program’s reputation is commendable is an understatement. The program just secured its 10th national championship this decade and its fourth consecutive win at the Sport Marketing Association (SMA) conference. Advised by Dr. Matthew Garrett, a team of five students represented Loras in Indianapolis Nov. 2-4 at SMA’s annual conference. The team consisted of senior co-captains Jessica Dickhut and Megan Tews. They were joined by senior Dannon Anderson, junior Aaron Broege, and sophomore Zach Roberts.

“The students did a great job representing the college with their efforts and execution. Winning this unprecedented fourth consecutive championship will only serve to continue our program and gain partnerships similar to the ones we enjoy with the Missouri Valley Conference and the Chicago Blackhawks,” said Garrett.

These case studies are highly competitive since Loras competes against other programs from across the country, and they are judged by industry professionals. Despite the pressure and the target on their back from their previous championships, this year’s team excelled with the case they were given.

The Aspire Group, a consulting firm that specializes in outsourced revenue enhancement, sponsored and wrote this year’s case. The issue presented was to construct a marketing strategy for the NCAA on how they could increase attendance at the Women’s Final Four basketball tournament. The strategy Loras presented included ideas such as developing an app, targeting group sales, and producing a traveling exhibit to create hype for the games.
Dickhut believes these competitions are significant for Loras students and the college as a whole.

“Case studies are important to the students because it gives them an opportunity to use what they learn in the classroom in real situations,” said Dickhut. “In addition, SMA is a chance for students to network with others in the sport business industry. Finally, competing in these competitions puts Loras on the map.”

As if completing the case in itself isn’t hard enough, the team only had 24 hours to generate ideas, do research, and make their presentation. Something that has continuously helped Loras stand out at these competitions is their use of primary research. The team reached out to several professionals in the sport business industry, including an associate director at the NCAA. In the span of a day, the team sent upwards of 100 emails and made over 25 phone calls.

Their hard work paid off, however, as the judges were thoroughly impressed. The team won their room on the first day of presenting and advanced to the finals round in which they presented again to a new panel of judges. This time, they got to actually display their strategy to the Director of Championships and Alliances with the NCAA. Loras defeated Indiana State and Temple University in the finals to claim their fourth consecutive title.

Each member of the team was thrilled to have represented Loras on this national stage.

“Coming into Loras I heard a lot about the strength of the sport management program. Now to be a part of its reputation is humbling,” said Broege. “Being able to bring back a national award was the least I could do to thank this outstanding program for what it’s done for me.”

Outside of competing in the case study, the students had the opportunity to see some of the sights in Indianapolis. This included visiting the Dallara Indycar Factory where they got to ride in a street legal Indycar. Despite these exciting activities, the team cared most about carrying on Loras’ name.

“My favorite part of the experience was being able to continue the success Loras has at SMA while bonding with four people I didn’t know very well before we went,” said Anderson.

Creating these bonds with each other will be crucial for the younger members of the team as they have already begun to strategize about next year’s competition.

“Continuing to keep connections that I have will help me with future case studies, as well as realizing that sport management alumni are more than willing to help or give advice. Reaching out to alumni is huge because they can help me take the next step toward leadership on the team,” said Roberts.

The location of SMA 2017 has yet to be decided, but Loras is planning on sending a team no matter where it takes them. To learn more about the team’s experience or to find out more details about the strategy they developed for the NCAA, look for their presentation at the Legacy Symposium in the spring.

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