Sports lecture series brings entertainment industry insiders

By Wesley Higgins, NEWS EDITOR
On January 12, 2015

Four leaders of the sports entertainment industry, two of whom are the former agent of Michael Jordan and the first African American woman to own a professional sports team, will take part in the second annual Sports and Entertainment Lecture Series today and tomorrow.

Hosted by USF, Fox Sports Florida and the Tampa Bay Lightning, the lectures are free to the public and will be held in the Marshall Student Center Oval Theater. 

While the speakers are all in the sports industry, USF Sports and Entertainment Management Program graduate assistant Rhyan Truett said they each draw from different experiences in the field.

The series begins today at 4 p.m. with Kenneth Feld, who will speak on how the field of sports entertainment is radically changing. 

Feld is the CEO of Feld Entertainment, which operates many notable acts such as Monster Jam, Disney on Ice and Ringling Bros. 

Later tonight at 7 p.m., Sheila Johnson will speak to students about her experiences in executive positions of the sports industry. 

Johnson became the first U.S. African American woman to become a billionaire, among many other accomplishments. She is the co-founder of BET, the president of the Washington Mystics WNBA team and the CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts. 

She was also the first African American woman to be a partner in three professional sports teams, including the Washington Wizards, the Washington Capital and the Washington Mystics. 

On Wednesday at 4 p.m., Don Marinelli will speak about his personal and professional relationship with the writer of “The Last Lecture,” Randy Pausch, the New York Times bestselling author of the popular book about a professor who imparts his wisdom before dying from cancer. 

Marinelli also spent 31 years at Carnegie Mellon and co-founded the Dream Fulfillment Factory. 

David Falk will conclude this year’s series on Wednesday, at 7 p.m. Considered the most influential basketball agent in sports history, he will talk about his long career representing over 100 NBA players. 

Falk is credited with coining the iconic term “Air Jordan” when negotiating Michael Jordan’s Nike contract. He was listed as one of the Top 50 marketers in the U.S. by Advertising Age, and was named one of the 100 most powerful people in sports by Sporting News for 12 consecutive years. 

Truett said the speakers were brought to campus so the student and Tampa community could learn from the nation’s best sports minds. 

“They’re so successful in their respective fields that their lessons can translate into any other business or career paths,” Truett said. “They’ve built careers that anyone can learn from.”

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