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Fourth Forum To Underscore Challenges Of Sporting Industry

Nov. 13, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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A panel of senior management officials who collectively have decades of experience in some of the state’s biggest sporting organizations will provide insight into the roles they play within their respective organizations, as well as some of the challenges they face, on Tuesday (Nov. 18).

The Sam Houston State University sport management program’s fourth annual “Mind of a Sport Executive” forum will begin at 1 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Theater.

headshot Reid Ryan
headshot Chris Canetti
headshot Eric Hyman
headshot Gretchen Shierr
From the top: Reid Ryan, president of the Houston Astros; Chris Canetti, president of the Houston Dynamo; Eric Hyman, Texas A&M University athletic director; and Gretchen Sheirr, vice president of sales and services with the Houston Rockets.

This year’s event will feature Reid Ryan, president of the Houston Astros; Chris Canetti, president of the Houston Dynamo; Eric Hyman, Texas A&M University athletic director; and Gretchen Sheirr, vice president of sales and services with the Houston Rockets. The panel will be moderated by SHSU alumnus David Brady, who serves as the “voice of the Houston Texans” as the home-game announcer at NRG Stadium.

“The Mind of a Sport Executive” forum is designed to introduce those interested in sport management to various intricacies of the up-and-coming field.

“We selected these panel members because of their dynamic impact in many different areas of the sport industry,” said Ryan Zapalac, acting chair of the kinesiology department and associate professor of sport management. “In each case, the panel members have wide-ranging backgrounds and experiences in rising through the ranks.”

“As many people want to become executives in the sport industry, the panel members will be able to give the audience some great perspectives on the paths that they took to reach the position they are in.”

Ryan made the transition from senior positions in Minor League Baseball to the president of a Major League Baseball team and “has been innovative in helping rebuild a franchise and a brand,” according to Zapalac.

Canetti is a Sports Business Journal “40 Under 40” honoree who has been a part of a franchise relocation, stadium initiative, and building a brand in a major market.

Hyman helped establish the Texas A&M athletic department in the SEC, has managed a large amount of media attention around their programs, and has overseen a $450 million renovation of Kyle Field.

Sheirr has been a driving force behind increased revenues for the Rockets in recent years and serves as one of the leading female executives in the Houston sports industry, Zapalac said.

“Together, this panel represents a great deal of experience and will be able to provide the audience with some great perspectives on the current state of the sport industry,” he said.

Now in its fourth year, “The Mind of a Sport Executive Forum” has delved into a number of issues relating to the sport industry—the fourth largest industry in the nation, accounting for an estimated $750 billion annually. Some of these topics have included the psychology behind the behaviors of sporting fans; issues related to the jobs of sport executives and how they effectively and efficiently run their organizations; and how executives handle the stress of managing the high expectations of fans.

“The forum provides a platform for top-level sport executives to share their knowledge and experience with students who are interested in pursuing a career in the sport industry, said Brent Estes, associate professor of sport management and kinesiology department graduate coordinator. “This is a great opportunity for SHSU students to gain some insight into what it takes to succeed as a sport manager in today's sports world.

“We are extremely fortunate to have such high-profile sport executives all together at one event,” he said. “Each of the panel members truly is a leader in the sport industry, and we couldn't be more excited to have them on campus to be a part of this great event.”

Event attendance, and the growth of SHSU’s program, have demonstrated the growing demand for professionals in the sport management field, especially as the popularity of professional and collegiate sports has continued to expand, Estes said.

SHSU’s graduate program was begun in 2007 with five students and has “grown considerably” since its inception, according to Estes.

“Sport management, as an academic discipline, has become an attractive option for students looking to pursue careers on the business side of sport,” he said. “We have helped prepare many students to pursue a variety of careers within the sport industry, and along the way, we've been fortunate to have great partnerships with professional sports organizations such as the Astros, Texans, Rockets, Dynamo, and Aeros, as well as a number of intercollegiate athletic departments.

“Our graduate students have benefited directly from these relationships through internships and full-time jobs,” he said. “Those valuable relationships are also evident through events such as our annual sport forum.”

While admission for the forum is free, seating will be limited, so those interested in attending are encouraged to arrive early.

For those interested in attending but not wanting to make the drive onto campus, the event will be simulcasted on the web at shsu.edu/live-cast.

For more information, contact Zapalac at 936.294.4575 or Estes at 936.294.1159.



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