From allegations of steroid use to astronomical salaries for athletes, the business of professional sports has unique challenges rarely covered in a standard MBA curriculum. The Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis is an exception. This spring, the school is introducing a new course in sports management that will feature several luminaries in the field.
The sports management class will be co-taught by finance professor Todd Milbourn and by someone who knows the business inside and out: Seth Abraham, former CEO of Time Warner Sports and Madison Square Garden’s chief executive.
“This will be a wonderful introductory class for students to get a panoramic view of the business of sports around the world,” Abraham said. “What was once a pastime has now transformed into a global economy. Television rights, team and league management, corporate sponsorship and marketing, media coverage and the impact of multi-national corporations will all be covered in-depth. Students will get a novel perspective on how the sports economy works.”
In addition to regular class meetings, the course will have four distinguished guest lecturers to teach about issues directly related to their professional expertise. These guests are Tony Ponturo, senior vice president of global marketing at Anheuser Busch; Neal Pilson, former chairman of CBS Sports; Harvey Schiller, former president of the Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Golden Thrashers; and Selena Roberts, former award-winning columnist for The New York Times and now the first woman columnist at Sports Illustrated.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer this unique course to our students,” said Mahendra Gupta, dean of the Olin Business School . “We have assembled an ‘all-star’ list of guest speakers to offer perspectives on a wide-range of topics pertaining to the global commerce of sports. This is a welcome addition to our curriculum at Olin, and demonstrates Olin’s dedication to innovation. We expect the class will become a permanent fixture in the future.”
Seth Abraham is chairman of STARSHIP SA and president of Madison Square Garden in New York City. Abraham has spent 37 years in the sports industry and has taught at New York University, Boston University and given lectures at the Harvard Business School.
All guest-speakers will be available for interviews as well as Seth Abraham and Todd Milbourn. The course will be held on Tuesdays starting March 18 and ending April 22.