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Program combines sports, marketing

Sept. 16, 2003

By Whitney Freeman, reporter

The Hankamer School of Business stays ahead of the game in a demand market with the introduction of the sports, sponsorship and sales program. Beginning in fall 2004, approximately 20 students, starting with juniors, will be selected 'based on GPA and other criteria' to be in the inaugural class of this new major, marketing chairman Dr. Kirk Wakefield said.

Students in the program will be 'trained in the fundamentals of selling, knowing that sales result from developing relationships based on listening, trust, mutual respect and abiding concern for the ultimate well-being of clients and customers,' according to Baylor's marketing Web site. Students also will be 'required to have two internships before graduation, one with university sports and the other involved in professional sports,' Wakefield said. Because of the increasing number of people interested in sports marketing, 'you can't get a job in this industry without experience,' making the internships crucial.

Faculty currently involved in the sports, sponsorship and sales program have a strong working relationship with owners and sales and marketing executives with such organizations as the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Astros, Byron Nelson Classic, St. Louis Rams and Arizona Diamondbacks.

In sports, 'the selling of sponsorships and tickets is where all the money is, and where the entry-level jobs are,' Wakefield said.

The sports marketing field is 'basically the combination of sports and sales' and no one in the country is training on sports sales. Baylor will be the first university in the world to have such a program, Wakefield said.

Of the current universities offering a sports program in business schools, none have a program focusing on the marketing and sales aspect of the business.

Dr. Darryl Lehnus, Baylor's associate athletic director for corporate sales and marketing, said their goal is 'to have the premiere, most unique sports sponsorship program in America.'

Wakefield and Lehnus spearheaded the sports, sponsorship and sales program last year. When the two met up, they immediately began brainstorming and ended up creating the program.

Lehnus recently was hired as a professor in the business school as well as keeping key accounts in the athletic department.

'Students get the chance to learn from Darryl and benefit from his many years of experience in marketing Baylor sports to various corporate sponsors,' Dr. Terry Maness, dean of the business school, said on the marketing Web site. 'More importantly, these students will learn from a man of great integrity, how to maintain that integrity and character while still being successful in this business.'

'There has been tremendous growth in sports business,' Wakefield said. 'If you look back 10 or 12 years, major league sports didn't even have a director of marketing and now they have entire marketing departments. What may not be as apparent are the job opportunities in NCAA sports and even through the high school level. There are tons of jobs out there.'

Students interested in this new major should 'take courses in sports sales promotion or even professional selling' to gain early experience, Lehnus said.

Wakefield and Lehnus are currently in the process of finalizing the curriculum for the new major.