Kansas State University


Department of Marketing

Sports Marketing Speaker Series

The inaugural MKTG630: Sports Marketing Speaker Series drew experts in the field of sports marketing from around the Kansas State campus and from major regional sports organizations, including the Kansas City Chiefs, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Sporting Kansas City.  

The speaker series is an integral part of the content for the MKTG630: Sports Marketing course, taught by Associate Professor of Marketing, Dr. Doug Walker. Guest speaker visits not only add valuable content to the course, but also have the potential to provide experiential learning opportunities for interested students, as occurred with the Oklahoma City Thunder this semester.

K-State Athletic’s Associate Athletic Director of Fan Experience and Sales, Joni Smoller, led off the series in August. She discussed the opportunities, challenges, and fun of managing the marketing of 12 sports with overlapping seasons. A highlight of Joni’s talk revolved around the detailed script used for home football games that plays such a large role in the fan experience; and the split-second, high-pressure decision making that occurs throughout the game in terms of programming the in-stadium entertainment, music, and promotions that makes it all happen.

The Kansas City Chief’s made the trip to Manhattan, represented by Director of Service and Activation and Kansas State College of Business alum, Kellen Begnoche; and his colleague, Director of Suite Sales, Anthony Matthies. The presentation began with an overview of the financial size and power of the NFL compared with other sports leagues, and the results available to brands marketing through the NFL and its teams. Kellen provided insights into the Chief’s philosophy on partnerships with sponsors, including detailed examples on a variety of current partnership relationships. Anthony talked about the sales of premium inventory, including luxury suites, the importance of these properties in driving revenue, and the prospecting and relationship building required to make those deals.

K-State’s new Athletic Director, Gene Taylor, paid a visit to the class – his first speaking engagement before a student audience since arriving on campus. His talk told of the evolution of collegiate athletics over the last several decades and included stories of major events and influencers in his career that have shaped his philosophy of athletics administration in general and the marketing of collegiate athletics in particular. Gene touched on the opportunities and challenges facing collegiate sports and provided insights into what to look for in the future.

Three members of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s marketing team visited class in early November: Travis Herman, K-State alum and Director of Ticket and Premium Sales, Ashley Barnett, Marketing Programs and Promotions Coordinator, and Tanna Zach, Manager of Marketing Outreach. They presented the Thunder’s regional marketing philosophy (which includes the state of Kansas), and fielded questions from the group in a panel discussion on a variety of issues concerning sports marketing and working in the field of sports. That evening, Blake Broaddus, Event Presentation Coordinator for the Thunder, along with a team of fourteen entertainers from the Thunder, hosted an Official Thunder Launch Party at Tanner’s in Aggieville. Celeste Bartels and Hailey Walstad, seniors in Marketing and teaching assistants for the sports marketing class, led a group of fifteen student volunteers from the class to work with the Thunder on promoting and executing what turned out to be an extremely successful event. In addition to the Thunder giving this group of students the experiential learning opportunity of a hands-on, close up look at a major sports organization promoting their brand, the Thunder entertainers made time to meet and work with their K-State counterparts, including their dancers and mascot meeting members of the Classy Cats dance team and Willie the Wildcat. 

Kaley Hattrup, Director of Marketing for Sporting Kansas City, closed the speaker series for the Fall semester. Her presentation gave a behind-the-scenes look at how the club develops their marketing programs and the system they employ to monitor their progress and evaluate their level of success. Kaley also shared with the students how she got into sports marketing and how she worked up to the position she now holds.

The MKTG630 Sports Marketing class had an enrollment of 115 for the Fall semester. The enrollment for Spring 2018 has already exceeded that number and is still growing. Recruiting efforts are underway to insure that our Fall guests return to class again in the Spring, joined by representatives from several new high profile organizations.