This week has marked the opening session of the new 2017-18 Sports Business MBA by Euroleague Basketball Institute. The first of four sessions in the 13-month-long course took place at Euroleague Basketball headquarters in Barcelona from Monday, September 18 through Friday, September 22, 2017. Students of nine different nationalities – from Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Lebanon, Lithuania, Nigeria, Romania, Spain and Turkey – are enrolled in the course.
This year Euroleague Basketball Institute is venturing in a new direction for the course by collaborating with Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania on a Sports Business MBA program. Previously, a Master in Sports Management and Marketing had been co-organised with Ca Foscari University in Italy for the past 10 years. Among the current students in the class are Zalgiris Kaunas Marketing Director Juste Ivaskeviciute, Euroleague Basketball Official Spiros Gkontas, Nigerian basketball team President Daniel Ngerem of Lagos Warriors, and Steaua Bucharest General Manager Ionut Georgescu.
The opening session began with an introduction by Rita Bendaraviciene, Vytautas Magnus University‘s Dean of the Faculty of Economics. Several of the finest Vytautas Magnus University academic professors were present in the first session, namely Vilija Biciunaite, Ausra Pazeraite and Renata Legenzova, to introduce the first three modules of Sports Business, Sports Marketing and Sports Communication. This was followed by a roundtable discussion with Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball President and CEO.
The transfer of knowledge from Euroleague Basketball senior management to students took place over the following four days. Chief Operations Officer Eduard J. Scott, Chief Business Officer Roser Queralto, Global Marketing Partnerships & Licensing Director Jose Luis Rosa-Medina, Marketing & Communications Director Alex Ferrer, in addition to other colleagues, presented the company’s inner workings in Basketball Operations, Marketing and Communications, Digital, Brand & Sports Marketing, Legal, Global Expansion, Financial Fair Play, Events, Communications, Ticketing and Sponsorship.
“As a basketball fan and, moreover, as a hardcore Euroleague Basketball fan, learning from the management of Euroleague Basketball about the business was incredibly amazing,” student Begum Unal said. “We have discussed the current operations and the future of European basketball. It was a challenging week working in a highly international group with classmates living on four different continents and everyone has a different opinion on the same topic. I wish that we could spend a longer time in Barcelona as the discussions we had were enlightening and deepened my point of view in many aspects."
Following this opening week the class will continue their distance learning with academic and professional staff until they meet for the second session in Kaunas, Lithuania, in January. Vytautas Magnus University staff will host the students on their campus and there will be a full day spent at Zalgirio Arena, where the class will go in-depth with arena staff and Zalgiris Kaunas employees. The third session will be in May in Belgrade, Serbia, during the 2018 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four. Industry leaders will present to the students in parallel with behind-the-scenes access to the main event at Kombank Arena. The closing session brings the class back to Kaunas in October 2018, where students will defend their MBA theses during a Viva and celebrate their graduation ceremony in a basketball heartland.
“Working in the Romanian basketball business, applying for the Sports Business MBA was the obvious choice for me," student Catalin Naziru said. "Euroleague Basketball promotes high standards in sports business. The experience at their headquarters was truly amazing, starting from hospitality, knowledge, networking and information delivered by the professionals. I'm proud to be one of the first people who will study this MBA and to be able to apply this knowledge.”