As the Michigan Sport Business Conference (MSBC) continues to plan its fifth annual conference this fall, we look back at the founding story of the nation’s premier sport business conference for undergraduates and industry professionals.
The MSBC was founded on two major insights: unleveraged university resources and accessibility to undergraduates. The MSBC’s founders, Dustin Cairo and Brandon Rhodes, were both involved with the Michigan Sport Business Association (SBA) during their time as students in Ann Arbor. In February of 2011, SBA took a trip to Chicago to visit the Big Ten Network, Chicago Cubs and the Kellogg Sport Business Conference at Northwestern University. Cairo and Rhodes thoroughly enjoyed their time at Northwestern, and knew they wanted to bring a similar conference to Michigan, but with one major difference: the Northwestern conference was geared toward MBA students, whereas the Michigan conference would be geared toward undergraduate students.
Between the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, the Sport Management program, and the University of Michigan Athletic Department, Cairo and Rhodes felt Michigan had something that nobody else could replicate. However, despite all these incredible assets, they felt that students dedicated to sport business struggled to get internships, and thus thought a career in sports was unrealistic. Their goal was to bring these resources together to provide undergraduate students a holistic view of the industry, along with tangible networking and job opportunities.
Entering its fifth year, the MSBC has evolved into much more than just a one-day event. It is a networking platform specifically designed for undergraduate students who intend to pursue professional opportunities in the sport industry. Five years after Cairo and Rhodes developed the initial conference, the MSBC has taken on a life of its own.
Every day, the student planning team works to grow the MSBC brand and its status within the industry in various ways. In addition to expanding the professionalism of the MSBC’s networking opportunities, the student planning team is attempting to increase the amount of these opportunities as well as their potential value for students and professionals alike. By recruiting the most prominent members of the industry, and by creating new and exciting ways to enhance the conference experience, the MSBC hopes to become a mainstay in the sport industry. Additionally, the MSBC is continuing to build up the BIG Initiative, an award created in 2013 to recognize outstanding student leaders who are shaping the future of the sport industry.
All of these additions and enhancements to the conference and its network are being done in an effort to become a multidimensional brand. The student planning committee is confident that this year’s event will be the best one yet, and is continuing to work hard to make it so.