In this screen shot from a virtual presentation, Marquis Watson, lower righthand corner, of the Philadelphia 76ers management team, speaks to Dr. Jason Hughes’s sports management class. Nearly 30 students attended the virtual lecture.
When Elizabeth City State University students enroll in the sport management degree program, they quickly discover that the field includes far more than coaching or being a team general manager. It’s also about marketing, sales, and even compliance.
“I’m trying to broaden their horizons and show them that there are other fields out there,” said Dr. Jason Hughes, assistant professor of sports management.
Dr. Hughes has been working on bringing top figures in sport management to his students. These lectures and question and answer periods are done virtually, which enables him to bring in professionals like Marquis Watson of the Philadelphia 76ers.
“Part of the experiential learning is bringing in people from the industry,” he said.
People like Mr. Watson, or the Edenton Steamers general manager, Tyler Russell, provide ECSU sport management students with the sort of insight that might not be found in a textbook.
“They serve as a model for a student to see what it takes to succeed,” he said.
These sports professionals, he said, not only talk about what it takes to succeed, they also give the students tips on volunteer opportunities and internships while they are in college.
Students also learn lessons such as how to present themselves and how to create a LinkedIn page. With LinkedIn, the students begin to learn about networking by building their own networks, including following up with their guest speakers.
Guest speakers like Marquis Watson, said Dr. Hughes, offer students an example of what the professional life looks like in the world beyond a university campus. Dr. Hughes said they were engaged with Mr. Watson for two hours.
“The students were really receptive,” he said. “It was new for them to hear from professionals.”
Mr. Watson is the corporate partnerships manager for the 76ers. His background is in sales, management, marketing, and promotion. He also works with a number of non-profits such as the Camden Center four Youth Development and the HBSE Black Leadership and Excellence Group. All of his activities illustrate for students what a productive professional life looks like, something they can emulate.
In the past year, guest speakers have included Mr. Russell of the Steamers; Brandy Marcum and Christina Woods, account manager and community relations director for the Norfolk Admirals; the football academic supervisor for the University of South Carolina Athletics; and former ECSU Sport Management alum, Malone Silver.
Future guest speakers include a senior associate athletic director, the general manager of the Virginia Beach Field House, and the vice president for Eastern Sports Management.
“These are people who are working in sports management and are very kind with their time and want to help as many people as possible,” said Dr. Hughes.