Excellence in the study of sports business has long been a calling card of the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business through its James H. Warsaw Sports Marketing Center.
With the launch of the UO Sports Product Management (SPM) Program in Portland, we planted a flag for the University of Oregon in the heart of the bustling business of sport products creation including footwear, apparel and equipment.
Now, with a gift from longtime supporters Nancy and Dave Petrone ’66, MBA ’68, the college is primed for making even greater strides in the global sports business research and education space.
“This gift will allow us to build out and diversify the college's two programs with new entrepreneurial offerings,” said Whitney Wagoner, Warsaw Center director. This could include digital content, and even more global reach, a la carte products, more executive education choices, and academic certificates, she said. “The goal is that these are self-sustaining entities that will eventually pay back into the larger college.”
The Petrones’ investment is special in that part of it is earmarked specifically for collaborative programming.
“We are taking two world-class programs and working together to amplify what we are doing by investing at intersection of these two areas of study,” said Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, Sports Product Management Program director. “We will continue to bridge academia with the working world through industry partnerships, guest speakers, and the development of top talent.”
The Petrones’ $1 million gift will provide $300,000 for the Warsaw Center, $300,000 for the Sports Product Management Program and $400,000 for joint programming and new strategic initiatives.
“Everything starts with leadership,” Dave Petrone said.
With the combined power of Warsaw Center Director Wagoner and Sports Product Management Program Director Schmidt-Devlin, he said he has a great deal of confidence in the success of the initiative.
“These two women are so committed, so good at what they do,” Petrone said. “Before we said yes to our earlier SPM gift, we asked Ellen what she thought the chances were of this being a success, and she said ‘100 percent.’ That’s a bold statement. And she succeeded, too.”
Sports products is big business, especially in Oregon, he added. So a cohesive, integrated offering and brand position upon which to build makes perfect sense.
“We can be the best at this, and we should be the best at this,” he said. “Success builds success, and we have some impressive people behind this. We wanted to be part of the engine to get this thing going.”
And go it has. The Sports Product Management Program graduated its first class in March and the program has a lengthy waiting list of well-qualified candidates. The program enjoys sold-out industry workshops and networking events and has just announced it will be holding its in-demand footwear making workshop again this October.
A team of four Warsaw Sports Marketing Center MBA students won the National Sports Forum (NSF) Case Cup in February. In November, the first Warsaw Sports Business Analytics Symposium brought together students, instructors, and professionals in the field of sports analytics with the aim of providing a forum to develop critical skills and discuss the emerging applications of business insights and analytics for the sports industry.
Industry leaders have noticed.
“For quite some time Oregon has been the home to countless successful global sports companies,” said Steve Vincent, a senior vice president at adidas. “The UO now has the programs in place to educate and develop future leaders for those companies.”
“Lundquist College programs fill a significant void in the global sports education marketplace—one that the UO is quickly owning,” said Kelly Hibler, vice president, Nike Global Basketball Footwear.
Petrone sees his and his wife’s gift as enabling the logical next step for the Lundquist College as it grows its national and international presence.
“We have a dynasty in sports, and this initiative dovetails into business so beautifully,” Petrone said. “We stand out. No one else has programs like this.”
Dave and Nancy Petrone are frequent, longtime donors to the University of Oregon. Dave Petrone has also served on multiple university boards, and is current chair of the Campaign Cabinet, a group of volunteers focused on fostering engagement, excitement, and relationship-building for the current major UO fundraising campaign.
Other recent gifts include establishing and supporting Women in Flight—a program to raise awareness and funds for women’s sports, contributing to the Erb Memorial Union remodel, and investing initial capital for the university’s forthcoming Black Cultural Center.