Former MSBC Speakers Among SportsBusiness Journal’s “50 Most Influential People in Sports Business”

This month, SportsBusiness Journal released its annual list of the 50 most influential people in sports business, which included five individuals who have spoken at the Michigan Sport Business Conference in the past. Featured below are the former MSBC speakers who made it onto SBJ’s esteemed list along with their reasons for being included among the most influential in sports business.


John Skipper, President of ESPN Inc.

SBJ Rank: No. 2

Year at MSBC: 2013

Panel/Breakout: Keynote Conversation with Mike Tirico of ESPN (now NBC Sports)

Why Skipper: Everyone is focused on ESPN’s ratings and distribution problems, but under Skipper’s leadership, ESPN is blazing a trail to the future of video. ESPN has cut deals with new companies like Sling and PlayStation Vue, and its digital content is more advanced than that of anyone else in the business.


Bob Bowman, President & CEO of Major League Baseball Advanced Media

SBJ Rank: No. 9

Year at MSBC: 2012 and 2015

Panel/Breakout: Keynote Conversation with Mike Tirico of ESPN (now NBC Sports)

Why Bowman: MLBAM’s BAMTech subsidiary represents the top-of-the-page headline for Bowman’s 2016. He oversaw a market-shifting $1 billion deal with the Walt Disney Co. to invest in the operation, followed by a partnership with Discovery Communications to expand into Europe. Bowman also shook up MLB’s licensing business, completing a new deal with Fanatics and Under Armour to produce UA-branded on-field jerseys beginning in 2020.


Don Garber, Commissioner of Major League Soccer

SBJ Rank: No. 19

Year at MSBC: 2016

Panel/Breakout: Keynote Conversation with Abe Madkour of SportsBusiness Journal, SportsBusiness Daily and SportsBusiness Daily Global

Why Garber: Under Garber’s watch, MLS continued its exponential growth this year. Expansion has played a major role in recent years, and successful launches are expected in Atlanta and Minnesota next season. With no lack of suitors, many are waiting to see where Garber takes the league next.


Dan Gilbert, Owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers

SBJ Rank: No. 22

Year at MSBC: 2016

Panel/Breakout: Keynote Conversation with Stephen M. Ross of Related Companies & the Miami Dolphins and Abe Madkour of SportsBusiness Journal, SportsBusiness Daily & SportsBusiness Daily Global

Why Gilbert: Gilbert not only presides over the NBA’s power brand in the Cavaliers, but he also is committed to using his franchise to help the revitalization of Cleveland and is an investor in a downtown redevelopment there and in Detroit. Oh, and his Cavs ended the city’s 52-year championship drought in June.


Jim Delany, Commissioner of Big Ten Conference

SBJ Rank: No. 31

Year at MSBC: 2014

Panel/Breakout: “The Economic Reforming of College Athletics” with Abe Madkour of SportsBusiness Journal & SportsBusiness Daily, Ben Sutton of IMG College, Burke Magnus of ESPN, Julie Kimmons of NCAA and Mark Silverman of Big Ten Network

Why Delany: Seldom has the power five’s longest-tenured commissioner wielded more influence than he does now. Delany appeared masterful this year in negotiating media deals with ESPN and Fox for a combined $430 million annually, and he arranged it so that the Big Ten will go back to the table again before its power five brethren.


The MSBC continues to serve as a platform for sports business leaders and executives to impact the future of the industry through connecting with students. Entering 2017, the MSBC is looking forward to defining the sports narrative once again.

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