With the fresh perspective of Professor James Newton, the Anderson University sport marketing program is growing into a major and minor that many students are excited to be a part of.
The sport marketing major and minor are relatively new to the Falls School of Business (FSB). Although this program is young, it has grown quickly and has made an impact within the FSB and AU.
The program provides unique opportunities to students with class structure and real-world experiences. Newton explains that his classes are 100% project-based. The classes are designed to provide students with real-life experiences rather than studying terms or marketing practices just to pass a test.
Newton has a desire for his students to be as prepared for their professional careers as possible. With his experience in the corporate world, Newton has continued to create projects or partnerships with his students that he knows will only make students more successful or desirable to future employers.
Coming from the corporate world and trying to implement hands-on learning rather than the traditional classroom style hasn’t been the easiest transition. However, Newton and his students have worked through this learning curve and have continued to elevate the classes.
“The learning on both sides, students and myself, was incredible,” Newton said. “This year, I have taken those learnings and leveled the classes up. For example, the first year the students had around six to eight weeks of actual client and agency experience. This fall, it was nearly the entire semester,” he said.
The students in this past semester’s sport marketing class partnered with other AU sports and academic departments to execute events. The goals of these events were to drive up student engagement in on-campus activities and teach students how to provide a complete, exciting fan experience at events.
Mariah Clemons, a current AU sport marketing student, took part in three events this past semester. Whether it was planning a glow-in-the-dark halftime basketball game or finding sponsorships for a raffle, Clemons was able to practice different aspects of marketing.
Clemons explained that all the hands-on experience helped her realize her passion for marketing. “Although it is extremely stressful and nothing goes as planned, it is fun,” she said.
Not only has Newton helped reform the classes in a way that excites students and gives them valuable experiences, this new approach to sport marketing has also impacted the AU athletic department. The sport marketing department has been able to form partnerships with the AU football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball teams.
In particular, the partnership between the sport marketing program and men’s basketball team has made an impact on both programs. Owen Handy, head basketball coach, described the sport marketing students he has worked with as, “engaged and responsive,” allowing the partnership to flourish.
The partnership has provided the students with opportunities to create unique events while helping improve the overall atmosphere at the basketball games.
As a result of the work this program has done, Handy explained, “The atmosphere has become more engaging. The attendance at the first game was huge and the first Saturday game had a big crowd as well.”
As Newton looks to build off this fall semester’s successes, he has big goals for the sport marketing program. Newton hopes to continue to forge partnerships with more departments on campus as well as expand to off-campus programs.
“I want to increase the program’s awareness both regionally and nationally, so it can become one of the top programs for the FSB and sport marketing industry,” Newton said.
With Newton’s hands-on approach and 27-plus years of experience in the corporate world, students are able to be proactive in class, put their own mark on an event, build connections and learn from the various experiences Newton has as a business professional.