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Publish date: Mar 11, 2011

Student-athletes take advantage of inaugural Sports and Entertainment Summit

By Greg Johnson

Karina Herold (left) of the LA Sports Entertainment Commission and Lindsay Amstutz of Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket conducted a sports marketing breakout session during the summit.

LOS ANGELES – The inaugural NCAA Sports and Entertainment Summit last weekend received a good review from those who matter most: the 100 student-athletes who attended the event.

Those selected to participate by the NCAA intern selection committee heard advice from professionals involved in sports marketing and events, social media, sportswriting, television and radio sports reporting, and the music and motion picture industries.

Student-athletes were able to gain firsthand knowledge, ask questions and have one-on-one conversations with the likes of Shelley Smith of ESPN; Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated; music producer Harvey Mason, who was a member of Arizona’s 1988 Final Four team; Shannon Gans, whose company New Deal Studios works on major motion pictures (for example, the Academy Award-winning film “Inception”) and commercial visual effects; and J.A. Adande of ESPN.

The concept of the summit was to give current student-athletes a chance to hear the realities of what to expect should they pursue a career in sports and entertainment after their playing days are over.

The NCAA staff partnered for the event with the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission whose mission is to seek, host, promote and retain major sporting and entertainment events that positively impact the Los Angeles economy.

“That relationship helped us educate student-athletes,” said Curtis Holloman, director of NCAA leadership development. “We came to Los Angeles because this is a place you think of when it comes to careers in sports and entertainment. As an extension of our ‘Career in Sports Forum,’ the summit allows us to assist in developing the knowledge base towards the career focus of NCAA student-athletes in an environment conducive to learning effectively.”

During the two-day event, the student-athletes listened to panel discussions; had round-table discussions in groups of 10; and attended two-hour breakout sessions about sports marketing, music and sports radio, print media and television.

The participants, who also took part in the community service project that included assembling bicycles with teenagers from the Los Angeles, were able to hear from former student-athletes as well.

The 100 student-athletes took notes and listened to advice on how to pursue professional careers in the world of sports and entertainment.

Mason, who played alongside Sean Elliott, Steve Kerr and Kenny Lofton at Arizona, saw his basketball career cut short by a knee injury. But he is an example of pursuing a professional career outside of sports.

Mason, who produced the soundtrack to the movie “Dreamgirls,” wrote or produced songs with Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross and Justin Timberlake over the years. He also worked with Oscar-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson to re-record “One Shining Moment,” which is aired at the conclusion of the championship game of Men’s Final Four.

Mason told the student-athletes in attendance that he jumped at the chance to work on the song, because the memories and emotions it stirs in him.

Another former student-athlete to speak with the participants was Karina Herold, a former NCAA intern who is director of sports and entertainment sales for the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission.

Some recent events Herold has worked on include the 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend and the 2011 Grammy Awards.

Other element of the programming included a presentation on the evolution of social media, which was conducted by Greg Champion, whose company works in public relations, commercial production and social media marketing.

There also were networking opportunities throughout where the student-athletes had more time to speak about their specific goals and to share contact information.

USC Professor Jeff Fellenzer offers advice to student-athletes during a round-table discussion.

“I’ve been to NCAA events in the past, but this was one of the best I’ve been to because of the quality group of student-athletes and panelists they brought in,” said Eugene Daniels, a Colorado State football player and vice chair of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. “I also liked that we had a smaller setting with a diverse group of people.”

Daniels, who will not be able to play his final season because of a shoulder injury, is majoring in news/media with a minor in political science. He currently has a radio talk show on campus, anchors the campus television news and writes free-lance assignments for publications.

He hopes to have his own daytime television talk show someday.

“I want to bring valuable television back,” Daniels said. “There is a lot of crazy stuff on television right now, like ‘Jersey Shore.’ I want to do a quality show where I can tell the story of those who can’t tell their own stories.”

Rowan’s Brittany Petrella, scheduled to graduate in May with a degree in public relations and advertising, said the summit helped her decide what happens after she obtains her undergraduate degree.

She had been torn between going to graduate school or accepting a position in the human resources department of a company in her native New Jersey after graduation.

But her decision was made easier after she attended a sports-marketing breakout session hosted by Herold and Lindsay Amstutz (director of marketing and on-air presentation for Fox Sports West/Prime Ticket).

 “After listening to them, I called my parents and told them I am going to grad school,” said Petrella, who ran cross country and played lacrosse. “They said, ‘Finally, you made the decision.’ I was juggling back and forth. I know I am going to finish my education now.”

The NCAA student-athletes teamed with teenagers from Los Angeles to build bicycles during a community service project last Saturday night.

Jeff Fellenzer, an adjunct professor who teaches a sports, business and media class at the University of Southern California, also participated in the summit as a presenter and moderator of several panels.

Smith, who has worked in print and television, is representative of those who speak to his class. She mainly does television reporting for ESPN and allows those interested in working in that field to shadow her assignments.

“I love coming to events like this because it reminds me of why I fell in love with what I do,” said Smith, whose daughter Dylann Tharp is a former soccer player at Oregon. “You can see in their eyes that they really want to learn. I see the difference in kids like this when compared to other students on campus. You know they are focused and disciplined.”

Like Smith, Fellenzer wasn’t aware of NCAA programming such as the Sports and Entertainment Summit. Once he learned about it, he wanted to participate in the initial event.

Fellenzer’s main emphasis was telling the student-athletes to find their passion and then worry about how to make a living at it.

 “One of the guys here told me story about turning down a pretty high-paying job waiting for him out of college,” Fellenzer said. “He was getting pressure from family members to take the job, but it wasn’t something he wanted to do. He said no to the job. It takes a lot of conviction and inner strength to do that at a young age. I always tell young people to pursue their passion.”