CSL Daily

February 27, 2014

Duke & UNC Trip Recap

by Kelsey Crawford, CSL Graduate Student

The Center for Sport Leadership was fortunate to visit the campuses of Duke and University of North Carolina on Wednesday.  The annual trip allows the students to tour world class facilities and hear from some of the most accomplished and successful people in college athletics.

We arrived at Duke shortly after 8am, and met by CSL alum Justin Jannuzzi, Associate Director for Iron Dukes Major Gifts, who served as our host while in Durham.  The tour began in Cameron Indoor Stadium, one of the most famous venues in college sports. We also toured some of the support facilities for Duke athletic teams. unc trip

After the tour, we gathered in a conference room to hear members of Duke’s Athletic Department talk about their jobs, career paths and advice for working in college athletics. Here are some of the highlights:

Art Chase- Asst. AD of External Affairs
On tips for successful internship

  • “Work your ass off, be a sponge, ask for more, and have fun.”

Nina King- Associate AD for Admin/Legal Affairs and Chief of Staf

  • “You have to be adaptable to the positions you’re put in…Time management is a huge characteristic and value to have.”

Joe Manhertz- Asst. AD, Iron Dukes Major Gifts

  • Wherever you go, get results. Results matter.”
  • “Always be the shadow of your leader…Agreement and alignment are different but you need to show support for you leader, even if you don’t agree.”

Gerald Harrison- Assoc. AD-Human Resources

  • In new jobs, “be cautiously daring” à take a bit of a risk to allow yourself to grow.”

Jacki Silar- Senior Women’s Adminastator

  • “As an administrator, you have to listen to people.”

Ryan Craig- Director of Digital Media

  • “Never be afraid to try something. Never limit yourself. You will be absolutely shocked at what you can accomplish 

Following the tour and speakers at Duke, we were back on the bus for the seven mile trip to Chapel Hill.  We were fortunate to have another CSL alum serve as host, Eric Hoots, Director of Player Relations for UNC Men’s Basketball.  Hoots began by giving our group a tour of the Dean Smith Center, known as the “Dean Dome”.  The tour was followed by a lineup of outstanding speakers from UNC Athletic Department, led by Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham, who took time out of his busy day to speak to us. bubba

When asked what he looks for in hiring new people for entry-level positions, Cunningham said, “I expect competency. I expect you to be able to put in the work.”  He also says he looks for enthusiasm.

Some of the takeaways from speakers at UNC:

Tim Smith- Dir. of Capital Campaigns, Rams Club

  • “Work/life balance is never 50/50.”  unc trip 2
  • “When done right, what sports can do in a community or in a family is unparalleled.”
  • “Relationships should trump just about anything” (in development)
  • Be genuine, honest, real when fundraising à Don’t be a salesperson

Ellen Culler- Asst. Athletic Dir./Football & Olympic Sports Operations 

  • Remember when getting into athletics and working with a lot of different people: “Suffer together, celebrate together.” 
  • “You can’t get experience by just being one of the gang, you need to run an event.”

Before leaving UNC, we were able to tour their football facility Keenan Stadium with graduate assistant Pete Chalfin.

We appreciate the athletic departments at Duke University and University of North Carolina for taking time to share their experiences with us.





February 26, 2014

CSL Launches “Ascend”

In his recent appearance at the Center for Sport Leadership, legendary rugby coach Jack Clark of UC-Berkeley discussed the values of high performance teams. After more than 30 years of coaching and team building, he concluded there are only two types of teams: those that are ascending and those that are descending.

The same theory can be applied to our personal and professional lives.  At the CSL, it is our goal to foster an environment where our graduate students can begin their ascension towards an impactful career in sport. We also believe it is important to offer opportunities to our alumni to incite and cultivate their evolution.

The Center for Sport Leadership is introducing a new initiative called Ascend.

This program is designed exclusively for alumni to continue their professional development and foster networking opportunities.

Starting March 1, participants in “Ascend” will begin a three stage engagement exercise.

 Part One- “Readers are Leaders”

We’ll be reading  gladwell_david and goliath“David and Goliath-Underdogs, Misfits and  the Art of Battling Giants” by best selling author Malcom Gladwell.
Between March 1-March 31, you should read the first (5) chapters of the book.
Between April 1-April 30, you should read the remaining (4) chapters of the book.

Part Two- “Communication Builds Community”

We will have two (2) online discussion groups using Google Hangout.
The first is scheduled for Tues April 1. We will discuss the first (5) chapters
The second is scheduled for Tues April 29. We will discuss the remaining chapters.
In addition, we have created  a CSL “Ascend” Facebook page where participants can post comments, request feedback or spark dialogue at anytime of day or night.

Part Three- “Less Me, More We”

During each scheduled online discussion, we will devote a portion of the time to networking and the cultivation of new relationships.  In addition, participants will be encouraged to use the Facebook group to discuss professional issues and career advice. We will also distribute a master email list so participants can connect directly with alumni during and after the conclusion of the 60 day exercise.

If you are interested in participating in the inaugurall installment of Ascend, take these three simple steps:

  • Email Greg Burton at and tell him you are interested
  • Buy the book: David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Make sure your Facebook & Google+ accounts are active & accessible

We’ll provide links and access to the CSL Ascend Facebook page and Goggle Hangout information once you have signed up.


February 26, 2014

Sochi’s Olympic Legacy To Be Determined

by Carrie LeCrom, Ph.D.

Well folks, the Olympics have ended, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure what lecrom-lgI’m going to watch on TV in the evenings anymore. While knowing the results before the events were aired made them a bit anti-climactic, I still loved the comfort of turning the TV on every evening and knowing that Bob Costas (or, temporarily, Matt Lauer) would be there for me. I’m a fan of the Olympics, almost regardless of what event is being shown. There’s something about the excitement, the patriotism, and the pride that speaks to me.

What doesn’t necessarily speak to me in the same way is the application of an ‘Olympic Legacy.’ The International Olympic Committee (IOC) discusses the idea of ‘Olympic Legacy’ as a critical component of any Olympic bid and Olympic games. They state that they “have worked hard to help current Games organizers, as well as applicant/candidate cities, look at what they believe planning for and hosting the Games, as well as simply bidding for them, can do for their citizens, cities, and countries.” This is a great starting point and absolutely something that needs to be strongly considered when putting together an Olympic bid. But, what happens after that fact? How are the Olympic legacy goals really being carried out after the fact?

Let’s look at the 6 most recent Olympic games, for starters. sochi 2

  • Sochi 2014: supposed price tag $51 billion. Olympic Legacy: remains to be seen.
  • London 2012: supposed price tag $14.8 billion. Coined as the ‘Legacy Olympics’ that would regenerate East London. Some of the facilities have been repurposed for other sporting events, offices, etc. Not much has been seen in terms of addressing low income housing (as promised) and very few jobs have been created as a result. So, I’ll say they’re batting about .500.
  • Vancouver 2010: supposed price tag $6.4 billion. Actual financial impacts were much lower than projected, tourism was not significantly impacted in the long run, jobs were not created at the promised level, and the government of Canada seems to have misled Vancouver’s citizens in all of these areas.
  • Beijing 2008: supposed price tag $44 billion. birds_nest_stadium_beijing_china-hd
    Seen as a disappointing legacy in that many of the venues
    (The Birds Nest, for one) now sit unused, other than as a tourist destination,
    and cost approximately $11 million in upkeep per year.
  • Turin 2006: supposed price tag $4.7 billion. While the Games are credited for increasing Turin’s own self image, little has resulted economically or in terms of infrastructure. The Olympic ski jump built for the Games is now unused, even as a practice facility for Italy’s own Olympic team.
  • Athens 2004: supposed price tag $15 billion. These games were a nightmare from the stadiums not being ready to the use of them after the fact. Sadly, the Games were perhaps a microcosm of the state of Greece’s economy today.
sochi 1

Sochi’s Olympic Venues

To me, Olympic Legacy is comes down to one thing, and it’s a thing we talk about a lot here at the CSL, as it’s one of our core values. Accountability. After the Olympic Games end, the IOC is not necessarily there holding your hand asking you how it’s going with Olympic Legacy. And why should they be? After all, they only have 2 more years to help organize the next Olympic Games. No one is following up and making sure you’re following through on all of your promises, at least not in any formal kind of way. So it comes down to accountability. Countries have to be accountable for the promises they made to their own citizens. It takes a team effort, but more than that, it takes a group of people holding themselves accountable for doing their very best to deliver on their promises. It takes leaders.

There does seem to be one country that has gotten it right in the recent past: Spain.

The Barcelona games (1992) have been a cap in the IOC’s feather in terms of Olympic Legacy. It is one of few (if any) countries that successfully used the Olympic Games as a way to rebrand itself as a tourist destination, rebuild a neglected part of a city, and build infrastructure that has helped the country thrive. Among other things, in preparing for the games Barcelona created a beach (which had not really existed before), built new roads, and installed new sewage systems. During and after the Games unemployment dropped, it transitioned into one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, and Barcelona has since claimed home to some of the best athletes in the world – soccer, tennis, cycling, basketball, and water sports. Many feel this final result came because of the Olympic investment in facilities and training. Adam Taylor, a writer for Business Insider, commented on Barcelona’s success in this area as London prepared to host the Games. He stated, “The London Olympics may be expensive, but we’re willing to be that if it helps produce a World Cup winning England team, or a Wimbledon winning British tennis player, many Brits will be very happy with the investment.” Maybe you can buy happiness!

soccernomicsThe final point when it comes to Olympic legacy is one that I say with a lot of confidence, and one that I was lucky enough to stumble upon this year. That point is this: hosting major sporting events doesn’t make a country richer, but it does make a country happier. Giving credit where it’s due, Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski wrote a chapter on this topic in their awesome book “Soccernomics.” Their discussion is in reference to hosting a World Cup, but clearly the parallel exists. There’s the belief that major sporting events should be (and are) granted to developing countries (South Africa, Brazil) because they will result in an influx of money that can be a stimulus for development and infrastructure. In reality, the amount of money hosting one of these events costs a country greatly outweighs anything they will see in return (typically). This is especially true for countries that desperately need all of the money that will be pumped into the Games to go to other critical needs. So, are we really doing these countries a disservice by awarding them the Olympics Games or the World Cup? As much as I value finding creative ways to build up underdeveloped countries, I am not so sure that this is the best approach.

In essence, I’m not sure the financials typically work out favor of the host country when all is said and done. In fact, research clearly shows that it doesn’t pay off in terms of sustained increased tourism, full-time job creation, or the financial bottom line. But, it does make people happier. There is clear evidence that hosting a major sporting event elicits increases in levels of happiness among citizens of the host country, and that the happiness is sustained for several years. Lots of people smarter than me have studied this in a variety of ways and the conclusion comes back the same every time. Kuper and Szymanski put it this way, “The jump in happiness [from hosting a major sporting event] is quite large. Citizens of wealthy countries like the Netherlands or France would need to make hundreds of Euros more a month to experience a similar leap [in happiness levels].” It’s astonishing and, in my opinion, great justification for bidding on a world sporting event. I’m not sure most politicians would agree with me, but perhaps that’s why I’m not in politics!

So, in the end, what will Sochi’s legacy be? It will be several years or even decades before we really know. We are, after all, still trying to see what London’s legacy is shaping up to be. I hope that Sochi’s politicians, organizers, and developers hold themselves to a high level of accountability. Without that, I highly doubt we will see the legacy that we were all promised back in 2007 when Russia won the bid. Because, like others, the IOC has already turned their focus toward Brazil, and while I’m sure they’d love to see a success story in terms of Olympic Legacy, their time is now being spent elsewhere.

 On another note, our neighbors to the North did put on a good show,
and while the U.S. canadaclaimed second in the total number of medals won (28, behind Russia’s. 33), Canada did inch us out in the overall medal standings, by earning points for more gold and silver medals than us. This might be the only time I will accept Greg Greenhalgh bragging about Canada. Enjoy it now.

And, I must also mention that Belarus does it right. They only won 6 medals in this Olympic games, but finished eighth in the standings (ahead of countries winning up to 17 medals collectively). How’d they do it? Five out of six of their medals were gold. I guess if you’re going to do something, do it right. Way to go Belarus!

Dr. Carrie LeCrom is the Executive Director of the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU. She can be reached by email at and follow her on Twitter at @cwlecrom

February 25, 2014

Alumni Profile- Chris Thomasson

by Steele Thompson, CSL Graduate Student

It’s clear Chris Thomasson is thankful for the opportunities he received at the Chris Thomasson, Football[1]
Center for Sport Leadership.

“I learned a tremendous amount while I was in the (CSL) program. I am grateful everyday for what I was afforded while there.”

Thomasson is the Associate Athletic Director for Compliance and Championships at UNC-Charlotte.  Before attending the CSL, Thomasson, a Virginia native, worked for the YMCA and the York County Parks and Recreation Department. He always knew he wanted to work in the sports industry and decided enrolling at VCU’s Center for Sport Leadership would put him on the right path.

While Thomasson at CSL, he was a graduate assistant for the Compliance Office working another CSL Michelle Meadows, now the Senior Women’s Administrator at Longwood University.  Thomasson described the CSL alumni network as a tremendous asset when needing someone to lean on or speak with while he continues to develop within Intercollegiate Athletics.

Thomasson recalled the Action Learning Project as the most memorable CSL assignment he participated in. The project was extremely valuable to his career development.  That project also happened to be the place he met an administrator from UNC Charlotte, which spring boarded him to getting a job with them a month later. He has been there ever since and loved every day.

In reviewing the recently established core values for the CSL, the one that resonates with Thomasson the most is Accountable.

“I always want people to think they can count on me when needed and think it is very important to be accountable for your actions.  Being accountable for your actions tends to create trust with others, which is important in your work place or life in general.”

Thomason offered some sound s advice to current CSL students:

“When working in college athletics don’t judge the job by the title but more of what that opportunity might be able to provide.  Particularly, if you work for a non BCS school because you will be asked to do (other duties as assigned) more often which will provide you to show your skill set and ability to do other jobs within the athletic department.  I truly believe that is what happened with my career.  I started as a Compliance person and now I oversee a startup football program, all because I came in and worked hard and asked to be involved in other areas, which showed my range and abilities.”

February 21, 2014

NBA Director of Social Responsibility Talks to CSL

by Kelsey Crawford, CSL graduate student

It’s been more than ten years since Jarian Kerekes sat in class as a member of the Center photo (10)of Sport Leadership. On Wednesday, he spoke to current CSL students (via Skype) about his role and responsibilities as the NBA’s Director of Social Responsibility.

 NBA Cares is the league’s social responsibility initiative. Kerekes says, “In the mission statement of the NBA, one of the key pillars is to grow and celebrate the game of basketball and the other which directly correlates to what we do in social responsibility is that we have an obligation to demonstrate leadership and social responsibility.”

Kerekes went on to say the NBA has three keys areas focus in: health and wellness, military platform, and sustainability. nba-cares

“We have these league platforms that are very broad on purpose and my role is to engage partners, both current or future respective partners, and help tailor programs that will meet everybody’s objectives.  We want to be broader and more prescriptive in a sense that what works in Charlotte may not work in LA and it may not work in Portland. If we’re wholly committed to just one thing and one community partner and just tied at the hip there, we limit our opportunities to do well in these other regions.”

Kerekes believes Corporate Social Responsibility is once again becoming a priority for sports leagues and business around the world.

“CSR is a discussion that is at the forefront and it’s something that every marketing partner we have, they’re interested in. They want to know how they can utilize our brand.”
Read more about Jarian in his Alumni Profile.


February 21, 2014

CSL Alum Guides Wrestling Team to 1st State Championship

photo 1 (8)

When Ryan Hall took over the wrestling program at Bendictine College Prepatory five years ago, he believed the school could win a state championship.  That goal became a reality as Benedictine won the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association championship last weekend.

Hall, who is also the school athletic director, was also named VISAA Coach of the Year for the second year in a row, Following the tournament, Hall told the school’s website,  “I love my kids and I love this school. I came here 5 years ago with barely half of a team and said we will become state champions and few believed. This title is for Michael Logan, Robert McKenna, Ralph Toomey, John Paul Curtin. Every wrestler who has ever wrestled in this program before I came and long after I am gone. This is for our current wrestlers, parents, fans, Cadet corps and the entire Benedictine Community! I can’t thank everyone enough for the dedication and support I have received the past 5 years. Particularly Mr. Grapes, Father Adrian, Greg Lilly, And John Fogarty for giving me a chance. We are bringing it home Benedictine! Thank you!”

The season is not over for hall and his team as they head to Prep Nationals at Lehigh University this weekend. Congratulations to Ryan Hall from all of us at the CSL.

photo 3 (3)

Coach Hall sharing the moment with his son Ryan O’Hara Hall II