The inaugural class of the Sports Business MBA by EB Institute proved a resounding success after 16 months' worth of hard work and scholarship that culminated in mid-January with graduation ceremonies at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania.
The last of four in-person sessions in the MBA program saw all students defend their final theses in front of a commission, led by Rita Bendaraviciene, the university's Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Management, that included all six module leaders and a Euroleague Basketball representative.
Thus culminated a unique learning process that had begun at Euroleague Basketball headquarters in Barcelona back in September of 2017, with the students embedded over a week in the day-to-day operations of a major international private sports league. The first session introduced the course modules of Sports Business, Sports Marketing and Sports Communication and included a roundtable discussion with Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball President and CEO.
The students, who hail from all over Europe, North America and Africa, came together again for five days in January of 2018 at Vytautas Magnus University for in-person classes to augment their ongoing instruction on-line. Two of those days were spent on lectures from Zalgiris Kaunas senior management and site inspections at Zalgirio Arena, among Europe's most-advanced sports and entertainment venues.
Their next stop was last spring's Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four in Belgrade, Serbia, where in addition to going behind the scenes at a major international sporting event in real time, they received lectures from 11 high-profile industry leaders from companies such as AEG, Spalding, Special Olympics, IMG and Desigual.
This month, back in Kaunas, their thesis topics ranged from co-branding to IOT ecosystems and event management in developing countries, with each having been developed over months under the guidance of a supervisor, true to the individual counselling ethos of the program.
"Vytautas Magnus University and Euroleague Basketball did an outstanding job to raise this MBA degree programme to the highest level," new graduate Juste Ivaskeviciute said. "Things got very serious from the first weeks. But that is why now it feels so rewarding. It is my sixth year in the sports business field, but the theoretical insights provided by the professionals and industry leaders were unique and inspired to look at my work from different angles."
The unique mix of professionals from the academic and sports words, including stakeholders from industry, leagues and federations, made the first Sports Business MBA by EB Institute a truly ground-breaking endeavor. The second class of the program is currently underway and actively preparing a new group of international students for success in sports business.
"Starting with the second generation, we will convey additional sports business knowledge from six guest professors from La Salle URL, University of Bologna, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, as well as from six industry experts from global companies like Desigual, FC Bayern Munich, Adidas, NBA, Nike, German National Anti-Doping Agency," Dean Bendaraviciene said. "All this mastery is disseminated to an audience from around the world, because of the diverse list of countries of our students, including Canada, Romania, Nigeria, Portugal, Spain, Lithuania, Greece, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Ukraine and Russia. This amount of knowledge, depth of experience and geographic breadth confirms our expertise in sports, academic excellence and 360-degree education."