Building the next generation of successful sports entrepreneurs

By Chelsea Gulliver

Football, baseball and soccer, oh my!

The worldwide social phenomena of sports is a universal language that is spoken globally. The sports industry global market is estimated to be worth between $480 billion and $620 billion, with the United States holding the largest market share worldwide.

North Carolina’s Role in the Sports Industry

Within the United States, North Carolina holds a unique position with its varied geography capable of hosting a multitude of outdoor sports, its numerous minor league teams, and multiple Division 1 academic institutions. The state is also the birthplace of NASCAR. 

With a plethora of athletics comes entrepreneurial opportunities.

At Appalachian State University, students are learning about the entrepreneurial potential of sports through a pilot class exploring the business side of the sports industry. 

App State’s Business of Sports Class

First offered during the Spring 2022 term, App State's Business of Sports class was taught by App State Director of Athletics Doug Gillin and Deputy Director of Athletics Jonathan Reeder. It featured alumni guest speakers, including NASCAR Vice President of International Business Chad Seigler, Elevate Sports Ventures President Chip Bowers, and JHE Productions President Jay Howard.

The class syllabus covered topics such as sponsorship, communications, marketing, broadcasting, athlete management, events management, licensing and merchandising, game day operations, sports analytics, and financial budgeting. The topics are expanded to discuss the background, legality, contractual writing and obligations, as well as personnel management and interactions included in each area. Students are taught how to recognize revenue potential and conduct profit loss statements, allowing them to fully understand what it takes to be an entrepreneur in the field.

The Business Project

Students apply the concepts learned through a semester-long project. They are grouped into teams of three to four students and partnered with one company from a list that includes the Carolina Panthers, the Carolina Hurricanes, the Carolina Knights, the Charlotte Sports Foundation, the Wells Fargo PGA Golf Tournament, Learfield and NASCAR.

The student teams are tasked with learning as much as possible about their organization, including gathering a stakeholder and SWOT -- Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats -- analysis from company executives. With this information, the students develop strategic plans, initiatives and supporting profit-loss statements. 

The partner companies provide students with a leadership reflection, where career advice is provided regarding the sports field, and the life of a successful executive.

Building a Network

According to students in the class, for someone interested in pursuing a career in the sports industry from a business perspective, the connections made are a true dream. 

The project alone provides students with the network and opportunities to start their own careers in the sports industry, and the guest speakers in class offer additional opportunities to engage with industry leaders in the state of North Carolina. 

Whether someone is interested in sports broadcasting or sports merchandising, athlete management or operational management, App State's Business of Sports class provides the knowledge and insight to develop a potential career path through hands-on experiences and network building. 

Business of Sports students are positioned to become the next generation of successful sports entrepreneurs, ready to dominate the competition in any sports business arena.

The class is taught through the Department of Management in the Walker College of Business. Find offerings at

About Appalachian's Department of Management

Appalachian's  Department of Management offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs to prepare students for a variety of managerial responsibilities in today's dynamic environment. The student who is studying management will acquire relevant knowledge and skills necessary for success in a variety of small, medium and large organizations. Learn more at

App State Deputy Director of Athletics Jonathan Reeder speaking to Business of Sports Class Spring 2022
Published: May 4, 2022 1:30pm