Jaguars get real-world experience hosting Horizon League basketball tournaments

No. 1-seeded IUPUI Lady Jags will take on the lowest remaining seed at noon March 9

Sports management students stand around a table promoting the Horizon League TournamentView print quality image
From left: IUPUI sports management students Alyssa Ramirez, John Hatzell and Willy Whatley worked on the street team to help generate interest for the Horizon League tournaments. They traveled to various Central Indiana sporting events to promote the Division I action. Photo by Kevin Feller

As helpful as reading books, sitting in lectures or writing papers is, doing things firsthand is a great way to learn.

For a group of IUPUI sports management students, the Horizon League men's and women's basketball tournaments are offering that real-world experience.

This is the first year the Horizon League has held its annual conference tournaments in the Indiana Farmers Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds -- the same venue as the home court of the IUPUI men's basketball team.

Students in TESM-S301: Selling in the Sport Industry, TESM-S211: Introduction to Sport Management and the Sports Management Club are all working to help market, promote and sell the Horizon League tournaments.

"This opportunity gets students out of the classroom and into the real world, seeing how different parts of events work in college sports," said David Pierce, an associate professor and director of the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute. "From grassroots marketing to sales and event operations, the Horizon League Championships have provided our students with the opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom."

Students in the Selling in the Sport Industry class are making outbound sales calls to fans of teams that are competing in the tournament. The Introduction to Sport Management class is filling volunteer positions for the event. The Sports Management Club is working as a street team, traveling around the city to various events and promoting the tournament.

The classes, within the IUPUI School of Health and Human Sciences' sports management program, are offering students a competitive, cooperative and supportive preview of where their career path could take them.

"You definitely get to experience that real-life sales feel when making calls, and you really get to find out if you enjoy it," said junior Kyle Clay, a student in Selling in the Sport Industry class and a team host for the tournament. "In class, we have been supportive of each other because it's something new for all of us, and we all want to help each other succeed."

This is the first year of IUPUI's partnership with the Horizon League to integrate with the classes. Gaining this kind of practical, real-world experience as part of the curriculum is an invaluable addition to the students' education.

"We offer these opportunities because they give students the chance to network and learn what parts of the sports industry they are passionate about," Pierce said. "Employers expect students to have experience volunteering at a variety of different events, especially if you're a sports management student in Indy."

Indianapolis is widely known as the amateur sports capital of the world, having hosted more than 450 collegiate and Olympic national and international championships. The Circle City is also the headquarters of the NCAA, the National Federation of State High School Associations, USA Gymnastics, USA Track and Field, USA Diving, and other sports governing bodies. These amateur sports organizations are in addition to the city's professional sports teams and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, one of the world's most prestigious racetracks.

For students interested in pursuing a career in the sports industry, IUPUI's program and location align for ample opportunities.

"Indy is our classroom," Pierce said. "In classes, this means we have endless opportunities to do meaningful consulting projects powered by student research. Out of class, students have a consistent and meaningful slate of games, events, tournaments and teams to get the field experiences that matter when it comes to getting an entry-level job in sports.

"Our faculty are active in making sure we leverage all of the opportunities and put students in a position to be successful when they get their opportunity to shine."

The tournament began March 3, with each early-round game hosted by the higher-seeded team in the pairing.

The Indianapolis action tips off with the final four men's and women's teams March 9 at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. For the women's tournament, the No. 1-seeded IUPUI Lady Jags will take on the lowest remaining seed at noon, and the No. 2 seed will play the highest remaining seed at 2:30 p.m. In men's action, the No. 1 seed will take on the lowest remaining seed at 7 p.m., and the No. 2 seed will play the highest remaining seed at 9:30 p.m.

NCAA Tournament bids will be on the line March 10, with the women's championship game tipping off at noon and the men's championship game starting at 7 p.m.

Tickets start at $10, but IUPUI students, faculty and staff can get $5 tickets when purchasing online using the code HLFAN.