Sports professionals and students will convene at third annual sports symposium

Nov. 24, 2008, 1:01 p.m.

Sports business professionals, marketing executives, college athletic leaders and students will come together for the 2008 Princeton Sports Symposium from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, in 101 Friend Center. The event is free and open to the public. 

The third annual symposium is intended to help students and sports professionals learn more about the sports industry, and provide a forum for sports professionals to attract potential future leaders. This year's event was organized by Princeton students with support from the independent Princeton Varsity Club and an advisory committee of sports business executives and Princeton alumni.

Princeton senior and event coordinator Jonathan Lea said organizers see the event as an opportunity to get an insider's perspective into the ever-evolving sports industry.

"This symposium gives attendees, particularly University students, access to experienced and successful people in the sports industry," Lea said. He organized this year's event with junior Anthony Soroka, sophomore Vikram Rao and symposium founder Chris Chaney, a 2007 graduate.

The half-day event will begin with a keynote conversation between attorney and sports agent Ronald Shapiro, co-founder and chairman of Shapiro Negotiations Institute, and his son, Mark Shapiro, executive vice president and general manager of the Cleveland Indians and a 1989 graduate. The conversation will be followed by panel discussion that address the Olympic Games, sports marketing and sponsorships, sports media and technology, athlete marketing and representation, and professional sports and college sports.

Organizations represented at the event will include: the Breeders' Cup Limited, Canadian Football League, Comcast SportsNet, CNBC, ESPN, IMG, Ladies Professional Golf Association, National Basketball Association, Proskauer Rose, Sports Illustrated and USA Boxing.

More than 40 sports industry leaders will participate, including the following speakers: Zak Brown, founder and chief executive officer of Just Marketing International; Kathryn Carter, executive vice president of Soccer United Marketing; Joey Cheek, Olympic speed skater and Princeton sophomore; Donald Dell, group president of television, tennis and events at Blue Entertainment Sports Television; David Dunn, chief executive officer of Athletes First; Wally Hayward, chairman and chief executive officer of Relay Worldwide Inc.; Christopher Heck, senior vice president of team business operations at the National Basketball Association; Jon Litner, president of Comcast SportsNet; Dan Mannix, president and chief executive officer of LeadDog Marketing Group; Rob Prazmark, president and chief executive officer of 21 Sports & Entertainment Marketing Group; Bill Rasmussen, founder of ESPN and founding partner of College Fanz Sports Network; and Frank Vuono, co-founder and partner of 16W Marketing, and a 1978 graduate.

Kellie Staples, associate director of athletics for the Princeton Varsity Club, said her organization is supportive of the Princeton Sports Symposium as an opportunity for the Princeton community to engage in discussion about important issues within college and professional athletics.

Ben Sturner, founder and chief executive officer of the New York-based sports marketing firm Leverage Agency, which is the primary independent sponsor of the symposium, said the event is an opportunity to give back to college students and young sports professionals, as well as to increase understanding about the sports industry in an academic setting.

University sponsors of the symposium are the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life, Undergraduate Student Government Projects Board, University Career Services and Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students.

Independent sponsors of the event are the Leverage Agency, Princeton Varsity Club, CSG sports marketing agency and EyeCare 20/20.

A full schedule of events is available on the Princeton Varsity Club website.