By: Brian Lentz, senior sport studies major
Throughout the sports industry, there are numerous companies and organizations that provide students the opportunity to polish their skills and build their career. One of those companies is Learfield Sports.
Learfield Sports, an offspring of Learfield Communications, Inc., was started in 1975, when the University of Missouri used the company to operate their radio broadcast network. Today, the company operates sponsorship and marketing rights through over 100 collegiate sports properties.
Several former Mississippi State Sport Studies and Sport Administration students have found work with Learfield Sports and their respective properties, including 2014 alum Kelly Bartlett. Bartlett currently serves as the Sponsorship Coordinator at the University of Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center, which houses the Cardinals’ basketball and volleyball teams.
“Learfield has a very important role with the KFC Yum! Center,” said Bartlett. “That role is to find businesses, organizations, and corporations to sponsor the arena itself. Our partners help keep this arena running while having the chance to get their name and logo out in front of the 1.1 million people who come through the KFC Yum! Center every year.”
While Bartlett has only worked for Learfield since January 2015, she has already gone through several adjustments and changes relating to her career.
“One of the roles I have been given is creating the proposals we present to potential partners of the KFC Yum! Center,” said Bartlett. “That is a role I have never been given before. I am used to picking up the phone all day selling tickets. I now make at the most five calls per day. I enjoy still wanting to talk to people at the end of the day now. Overall, working with sponsorships as opposed to ticket sales is my biggest progression so far.”
However, it’s not just former students that have found a role with Learfield’s properties. Andy Lockard is a current Sport Administration student at MSU and serves as the manager for the women’s tennis team. In between those two roles, Lockard also serves as a fulfillment coordinator for MSU’s Bulldog Sports Properties.
“There’s a lot of time management and people skills involved,” Lockard said. “A seller can come up to you and say I need a proposal for this client in 30 minutes and this is what it should include. You have to be able to focus and get it done. Failing is not an option. I have been told that I'm past the point of making little mistakes now and that I have to be perfect. It can be a grind sometimes, but in the end it is rewarding.”
As for students who are looking to break into the sports industry, whether with Learfield or another organization, Bartlett offers four pieces of advice – work hard, gain experience, network, and have a good attitude.
“Not every step and job will be the most enjoyable,” Bartlett said. “Not every day will be fun, but you need to make it seem like it is the best job you’ve ever had. Employers like a go-getter, and this attitude rubs off on the rest of the office you work in.”