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Eller class partners with FOX Sports University for case competition

Jen Pimentel
Fans hang out while watching Arizona men’s basketball face Washington at Gentle Ben’s for the FOX Sports GO watch party on Saturday, Feb. 6. Students in the Eller College of Management worked with FOX executives in a case competition.

While many students dream of working in the sports industry, few will make it that far. Other careers, in the meantime, will pique their interests. 

FOX Sports University, a branch of Fox Sports, was started about eight years ago and is now featured in more than 35 universities across the country, including North Carolina, Michigan, Georgetown and Minnesota. 

“It started as a way to get more involved on campuses and cities,” said Molly Stires, Marketing and Strategic Partnerships Manager at FOX Sports. “It was also a way to give back to communities and give students the opportunity to work on a live case study.”

FOX Sports University had a proposition for the Eller College of Management Marketing Department. The inquiry was whether the students in Ed Ackerley’s advertising management course would work with Fox Sports in the fall semester in a case competition.

“I believe it is an exceptional experience for students,” Ackerley said. “It’s kind of becoming the norm in the Eller College to create 100 percent engagement. The class really fits in well with that philosophy of giving students a hands on real world outcome kind of a project where they can administer the advertising concepts they are learning into real world execution.”

After competing in a case competition judged by executives from Fox Sports, including some alumni from the UA, the winners were promised their idea would be executed. 

This happened Saturday at Gentle Ben’s during the Arizona men’s basketball game against Washington. The event featured all of the winning team’s ideas, including free food, prizes and a photo booth. 

One judge knows Arizona basketball extremely well. Brett Hansen was previously the associated sports information director under Lute Olson from 1994 to 2000, which included the 1997 National Championship run. 

Hansen now serves as the director of communications for FOX Sports Arizona. 

“We all know how good Arizona basketball is. … So this is just something that we thought would be a great natural fit for the Eller College and UA to spread the word about FOX Sports Go on the college campus,” Hansen said. “We know that college students aren’t always relying on their television, they are on their smartphones and mobile devices to watch sports. We tapped into them to figure out new ways to promote FOX Sports Go and they came up with that really cool concept for the watch party to come to life.” 

Despite whoever won or lost the competition, the impact and the opportunities these students have been given will do wonders for their resumes and future careers. 

“Kids can walk out of that class with something they can show a future employer,” Hansen said. “They can say that they campaigned with FOX Sports and they have the experience of what it takes. If you know somebody that’s been with FOX Sports U, they understand what we do and it just puts them a step ahead of someone who hasn’t taken a class like this.”

This isn’t your normal internship or opportunity to work with one of the biggest names in the entire sports industry. 

“Access is what makes this program so unique,” Stires said. “FOX Sports as a company has a lot of resources behind the program bringing executives to campus and to bringing these ideas to life. We see ourselves as a resource.”

Ackerley couldn’t agree more on the tremendous opportunities all of these students have.

“Even if they don’t go on to become a marketing person or even an advertising person, they do get it,” Ackerley said. “They understand what a unique opportunity this is for them and what an exceptional learning experience this is no matter what they do with their life. It is a very powerful experience.”

Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.

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