By Eller College
In February, the Eller College held an official launch party for the sports management minor, a student-driven academic option designed for non-business students.
At the launch, Brent A. Seebohm, former UA associate athletic director and past president of the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators, announced a multi-year gift commitment to the program.
”Given the current financial challenges in the state and the UA, I made a commitment that this program would not require any funding from the University,” says Stephen Gilliland, head of theDepartment of Management and Organizations (M&O). “Brent’s gift provides the critical new venture funding to get this program successfully launched.”
The contribution establishes the Seebohm Fund for Sports Management Educational Excellence, which will support the program’s goal to become a nationally recognized center of excellence for sports management education.
Seebohm, currently CEO of his own marketing and sports consulting company (bAlpha.com), connected with the Eller College while he was with UA Athletics; Gilliland worked closely with UA athletics leaders to garner support for the sports minor program in its critical developmental phase.
“I was motivated by the Eller College’s prestige to create this fund and spark the full complement of year-round courses,” says Seebohm. “My best inspiration to donate came from Dr. Stephen Gilliland’s perserverance and professionalism. The assembled faculty and adjunct instructors team is impressive.”
Seebohm holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Colorado State University and a master’s degree in sports management from Wichita State University. He has worked in college athletics at six universities and became an assistant athletics director by the age of 22. Seebohm currently serves as the marketing agent for 25 National Football League players.
“This is an exciting phase for UA students who are passionate about sports business,” he says. “The industry is so much more competitive today than when I started as a football manager 18 years ago. The expanded practical experiences that our students will gain this fall and beyond will be a definite resume and job placement differentiator.”
The Seebohm Fund for Sports Management Educational Excellence will support faculty instruction, education enrichment, internship and placement activities, promotion, and competitions and networking events.
The sports management minor was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents in fall 2008, and the first year of pilot classes concluded last semester. The program is a result of a student-supported initiative to house a sports-oriented business management program for UA students who are not enrolled in the business college; business students may take courses to add a sports management certificate to their degree.
Gilliland says that faculty in his department began discussing the program in early 2008. Finance major Chris Moran was seated with M&O faculty during a College event, and caught wind of the plan. “I told them that I was in the Sports Marketing Association and that my goal was to someday run the finances for a professional sports team,” says Moran. “Someone mentioned that the sports management minor was in the works, but it wasn’t ready to be promoted. I thought to myself: No way! We should spread the word!”
Moran approached Gilliland and asked how he could be of assistance. “I suggested he write a letter of support and ask some friends to sign it, as well,” Gilliland says. “Chris came back two weeks later with 500 signatures.”
Moran was among the approximately 150 students who braved the rain to attend the official launch at McClelland Hall, which included lunch provided by Seebohm and a display of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster.
“The official program launch is a terrific start as we hold a shared vision to emerge towards national excellence,” Seebohm says. “This premier University, with its proud athletics tradition, offers great reputability for our curriculum and graduates. I feel this program’s evolution and growth over the next four years will be remarkable.”