Sports Management Students Meet Real-World Fundraising Challenge
Sam Silbereich, sports management minor, shown
here at Fenway Park in Boston, enjoyed the
Business of College Sports course this summer.
By Liz Warren-Pederson
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 with UA 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 teach Special 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.