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By Liz Warren-Pederson


Sam Silbereich, sports management minor, shown here at Fenway Park in Boston, enjoyed the Business of College Sports course this summer.

Sam Silbereich, sports management minor, shown
here at Fenway Park in Boston, enjoyed the
Business of College Sports course this summer.

Over the winter and summer sessions, students in the sports management minor earned a combined $5,200 to support the growing program.

Created by the Department of Management and Organizations (M&O) in response to student demand, the program officially launched in spring 2010. Lee DeLeon, assistant athletic director for annual giving and major gifts withUA Athletics, contacted M&O department head Stephen Gilliland asking to get involved.

“I have a master’s in sports management and was excited to support the UA program,” DeLeon said. Gilliland recruited him to teachSpecial Topics in Sports Management: The Business of College Sports.

“In college athletics, a significant portion of the budget comes from private funding,” DeLeon explained. He aimed to give students in his class real-world experience in fundraising. “It was a group project,” he said. “I wanted to get them excited about asking people to get involved, developing a solicitation strategy, and then applying that to a real project.”

In just four weeks, 48 summer session students raised $4,400; the 13 students in winter session raised $870 in half that time.

“I want to go into a career involving sports, so this class helped prepare me for that career,” said political science major — and sports management minor — Sam Silbereich. “The exercise was a real-world challenge, in that I had to use contacts and my network to raise awareness about the program, but also to raise money.”

“A large percentage — 70 or 80 percent — of funding came from families and friends,” DeLeon said. “Fundraising is all about relationships, and in this short amount of time, the students needed to capitalize on pre-existing relationships.”

“The biggest thing I took away was learning how to create a connection and then how to make the ask,” Silbereich said. “Also, that a person should not be afraid to ask for a larger amount, and if that does not work to settle in the middle.”

“It’s all about hands-on, real-world development experience,” DeLeon said.