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Sport Business students to work NCAA Tournament

As Jacksonville gets set to host the second and third round of the NCAA Men’s College Basketball tournament, the JU Sport Business program is taking advantage of the learning experience.

A special topics course has been created focusing on event and volunteer management, sponsorship of athletic events and economic impact on the host city. Eight sport business students are members of the class with an additional five volunteers from the Sport Business Club and program.

“Students are going to have a hands-on experience with the tournament here in Jacksonville,” said Dr. Todd Hall, Assistant Professor of Sport Business and the faculty member teaching the course. “This is a great opportunity for our students to apply their learning and put it into action.”

When the tournament begins in March, members of the class will be working with staff and tournament volunteers at the Veterans Memorial Arena. Students will serve in a variety of roles throughout the week. They will assist with onsite preparations and facility setup, and provide support to members of the media, among other responsibilities. These tasks will give students a real-world feel to event execution and management, as they will be working with more than 100 volunteers throughout the week.

JU Director of Athletics Dr. Donnie Horner is also impressed with this opportunity.

“As the only NCAA Division I athletic director who is also a business school professor, I am really excited that our sport business students are able to participate in a world-class event such as the NCAA basketball tournament.  This kind of real world experience is hard to come by.  Our students are offered a rare insider’s glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes.”

The class has been developing a questionnaire to measure volunteer satisfaction, as well as examining factors regarding spectator spending while visiting Jacksonville. The group will look to collect the data throughout the event, and report back to Jacksonville University, the city of Jacksonville and to the Director of Sales & Marketing at SMG – the city’s facility manager.

“The goal is to allow these students to conduct their own research and experience the true impact of having a largely publicized event here in Jacksonville,” Hall said. “We hope this will allow us to bring more exposure to the type of work we are doing, and are capable of doing in the Davis College of Business.”

Students will also be holding a panel discussion on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 7:30 p.m. in JU’s River House. The panel will include those responsible for attracting and hosting the most prestigious event in college basketball to Jacksonville – Dr. Horner from JU, Alex Alston from SMG, and Joel Lamp from the City of Jacksonville.

The second and third rounds of the South Regional for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will be hosted at Veterans Memorial Arena in Downtown Jacksonville March 19-21. Teams playing in Jacksonville will be selected on Sunday, March 15, on ESPN.