Mention Jim Warsaw's name, and people talk about inspiration.
The namesake and founder of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the Lundquist College of Business served as an inspirational guest at the Warsaw Women in Sports Business Symposium, April 21-22. The following weekend he was back in the spotlight as the James H. Warsaw 3-on-3 Classic Basketball Tournament raised funds to find a cure for Parkinson's disease, the neurodegenerative disorder that has afflicted Warsaw since 1993.
Now in its ninth year, the symposium mirrors a commitment to equal opportunity that defined Warsaw's career as a pioneer in sports marketing. Another pioneer in sports marketing fittingly was on hand to receive the first Warsaw Sports Business Woman of the Year Award. Val Ackerman, the first president of the Women's National Basketball Association and now the first woman selected to preside over USA Basketball, accepted the honor and praised Warsaw's contributions to advancing women in the sports industry.
The colloquium allowed students to apply principles to practice as they ran all aspects of the event, including planning, inviting speakers, marketing, and public relations. Students seized the opportunity, bringing in national sports marketing experts and turning the symposium into what first-year M.B.A. student Sarah Hutchinson called a "focal point for the industry."
"It was a great opportunity for speakers, panelists, and professionals to get to know the quality of the students and program at the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center," Hutchinson said.
Meanwhile, some 15 graduate students, along with undergraduate members of the Warsaw Sports Business Club, pushed the basketball tourney to new fundraising heights. The students raised nearly $20,000 -- more than double last year's total -- by motivating donations with green "accelerate" bracelets, issuing a fundraising letter, and doubling the number of sponsors. They also got help from former Duck football quarterback Joey Harrington, who donated more than $2,000 through matching grants, and former Duck basketball stars Luke Ridnour and Luke Jackson, who autographed T-shirts for auction.
First-year M.B.A student Joshua Frankel said student organizers were proud not only of meeting fundraising goals but also of increasing public awareness of Parkinson's disease.
But in the end it was Jim Warsaw himself who left people inspired, Frankel said.
"Everyone left that day feeling connected to Jim and feeling like they wanted to be a part of the quest to cure Parkinson's," Frankel said. "I'll never forget that. This isn't about the basketball. It isn't necessarily about the money we raised. This is about Parkinson's disease and what we can do to help cure it."