The James H. Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the UO Lundquist College of Business provides a platform for both research and education focused on the $500 billion sports industry. In April, this pioneering center, of which we are extremely proud, will celebrate its twentieth anniversary.
Founded in 1993, the Warsaw Center was the first program of its kind in the United States uniting faculty members across multiple disciplines and housed within a college of business. Several business schools have followed with sports marketing programs of their own, but none have achieved the Warsaw Center’s level of worldwide success.
Reflecting on the remarkable progress made since those early days, Warsaw Center Managing Director Paul Swangard made the comparison to the transformation of Oregon Athletics. “For longtime Ducks like me, it’s hard to put into words how far we’ve come as a university with competitive athletic teams during the past twenty years. The recipe for success is simple: invest in infrastructure, attract top talent, and market yourself aggressively as innovative and best in class.”
“Bringing together for the first time a team of strong researchers, top educators, and industry expertise, the Warsaw Center quickly rose to world-class status faster than our football team changes uniforms,” Swangard continued. “In creating a category of education,” he noted, “the center has become a lasting legacy for Jim Warsaw’s vision and a point of pride for the college—just as athletics has become a point of pride for the larger university.”
Along with being an academic groundbreaker, the Warsaw Center is also a think tank for sports business issues. Its name is well known and respected at the NBA, NHL, Nike, and ESPN—organizations that routinely greet those associated with the center with open doors, firm handshakes, and smiles. Our affiliated faculty members have published research on topics ranging from stadium finance to consumer behavior and sponsorship, and they are frequently tapped by leading media organizations to offer perspectives and insights on the sports industry’s top stories. Faculty and staff have been featured in or on ABC’s Nightline, ESPN’s Outside the Lines, and CNBC’s Money Talks, as well as in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and USA Today.
As we celebrate the center’s twentieth anniversary, we are preparing for an exciting new chapter of growth. Led by Swangard, a compelling strategic plan has been crafted that focuses on strengthening the center's existing foundation and aggressively building new capabilities to serve students, academia, and industry. It calls for
- Expanding globally with sports marketing/sponsorship initiatives
- Launching a new program to meet the growing needs of the sports products sector
Both initiatives are moving forward rapidly. As Swangard noted, “I’m thrilled by the progress that is being made in building out plans for new interdisciplinary curriculum programs, the signing of key international exchange partnerships, and by the response we’ve seen from stakeholders about the future of sports business studies at the University of Oregon.”
As we have long said, students do not join the Warsaw Center to learn how to apply general marketing and finance principles to sports. Rather, they come to study marketing and business principles specifically within the context of sports. That’s a big difference. It’s what makes the Warsaw Center unique, and why its graduates go on to become leaders in the sports industry for trailblazing brands such as adidas, Octagon, and Visa.
We are particularly excited that one crucial response to our initiatives has been a financial one. After completion of the center’s strategic plan in the fall, an anonymous donor stepped forward with a $500,000 gift. A second $100,000 pledge by Jim Warsaw’s brother Bob closely followed. We now seek to leverage this support and, in the spirit of the center’s twentieth anniversary, hope to double the gift through additional pledges and donations.
Although I did not have the honor of meeting Jim Warsaw, I appreciate why so many people consider the center a fitting memorial to his passion, integrity, and leadership. We ask you to consider making a gift in honor of Jim as we celebrate the success of the center’s first twenty years and prepare to expand this world-class program for the next twenty.
Cornelis A. "Kees" de Kluyver
Dean and James and Shirley Rippey Distinguished Professor