Sport Management Students Rank Among Best in the Country in Sales Competition
With the support of their professors and alumni coaches, several Chargers recently earned high honors in the National Collegiate Sport Sales Competition qualifier, capturing first place in the nation in the corporate partnerships category. Two students are now preparing to compete in the championship later this month.
February 9, 2023
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Mohammed Anas Ali ’22 M.S., ’23 M.S. recently had the opportunity to put what he’s learned in the classroom to the test while taking part in a unique strategy and sales competition. He and some of his fellow University of New Haven students excelled, charging into a top ranking and an opportunity to head to the next round: the championship.
Ali, a candidate in the University’s graduate program in business analytics, was one of several Chargers who took part in the National Collegiate Sports Sales Championship qualifier last semester. The University was ranked first in the nation in the corporate partnerships category at the event. Individually, Ali finished the competition ranked third in the nation, and he will go on to compete in the championship in Atlanta late this month.
“On the day the results were announced, I was so nervous,” said Ali, who also earned a master’s degree in sport management. “I kept checking the website every few minutes. Finding out that I came in at #3 in the nation was a very special moment for me, and I let my family and close friends know as soon as I found out. It made me feel that my hard work was appreciated, and it gave me motivation that I can create something of value in the sport industry.”
‘I had a support system’
Ali was one of several of the University’s standouts at the competition. Ilias Giannakopoulos ’23 M.S. ranked ninth in the nation individually, and he and Ali advanced to the championship in Atlanta.
Their classmate Mike Pantera ’24 M.S. also scored a major win at the qualifier, ranking 18th in the nation individually. When he entered the competition, Pantera initially feared he was at a disadvantage. Pursuing a graduate degree in sport management was a bit of a change for Pantera, who had studied biochemistry as an undergraduate and did not yet have experience in the field of sport management. He drew encouragement and momentum from the competition and from the support he received.
“Placing 18th nationally was a pleasant surprise to me,” he said. “I knew I had a support system around me that could help me present the best version of myself. This competition was a great opportunity for me because it gave me a chance to put my newly learned skills to the test against other students like me.”
‘Drawing from the material they’ve been learning’
That support system included the Chargers’ coaches, two alumni who have been dedicated to helping them prepare and learn as much as possible. David Estevez ’16, ’18 MBA, who now works for the National Basketball Association as an associate manager for team marketing and business operations, and Chris Bartels ’15 M.S., an associate vice president for Berk Communications, helped the students prepare for the competition. Estevez and Bartels are continuing to work with the students who are preparing to compete in the championship, offering advice, feedback, and support during weekly sessions.
Estevez says that he was impressed by the students’ ability to take the advice their coaches offered and use it to develop their own projects. He says that when he was a student, the opportunities to meet and learn from industry professionals were invaluable.
“It meant a lot to me to serve as a mentor/coach to current students,” said Estevez, an associate manager of team marketing and business operations for the NBA. “I always felt that the people I was able to meet helped me learn about the sports industry and get a better idea of what career path I wanted to take. Now that I get to be on the other side of this, I only hope I can do the same for the students I am working with.”
Bartels says he’s excited the students had the opportunity to participate, since such competitions offer real-world experience. He enjoyed the opportunity to work directly with students and to help them gain experience that he believes will directly translate to what they’ll be doing in the industry.
“It was really incredible to see how prepared all of the students were going into the first round of the competition,” said Bartels. “It was clear they were drawing from the material they’ve been learning in the classroom as they put together their presentations. We also had very productive weekly working sessions in which they were all asking insightful questions and leading the conversation in ways that showed they tapped into the core pillars of the project.”
‘Challenged me intellectually’
At the competition, hundreds of students from across the country gain skills that will help them transition from student to an industry professional. They pitch a product to a “buyer,” using the product information provided in advance of the competition, and judges then assess their performance.
“The Sport Management Department is dedicated to providing experiential learning opportunities to our students,” said Ceyda Mumcu, Ph.D., department chair and the students’ professor. “This was an extraordinary opportunity to put our students’ knowledge and skills to the test at the industry level.
“Our alumni are instrumental to the success of our students,” she continued. “They respond to our call every time and enjoy giving back to our program. They support the growth of the next generation of Chargers in the sport industry.”
The championship will be another valuable opportunity for Chargers to practice what they’ve learned in the classroom and to make important industry connections. Indeed, one of the goals of the competition is to connect students with potential employers, and it offers opportunities for them to network and interact with recruiters.
For Ali, the business analytics grad student, heading to Atlanta later this month is something he’s looking forward to and preparing for. He’s incorporating the feedback he’s received thus far, and he says the preparation and support he’s received have built his confidence.
“I am thrilled to compete in Atlanta in the championship round,” he said. “I will have the opportunity to network with professionals from executive positions, which would be way out of my reach otherwise. Most of all, I have enjoyed how this competition has challenged me intellectually and taught me valuable problem-solving skills.”