In an effort to provide aspiring sports business professionals with a deeper insight into the college athletic world, BusinessofCollegeSports.com will be conducting weekly Q&A’s via email with industry professionals working in higher athletics. This week’s guest is Matt Biggers, Associate Athletic Director of External Affairs/Chief Marketing Officer at the University of Colorado.
Check out the Q&A below and let us know what you think of Matt’s advice on Twitter.
BusinessOfCollegeSports.com — When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in sports?
Matt Biggers — This is a nerdy, but true story. I was in 6th grade and remember watching a college football game on TV and saw that one of the players was majoring in sports management. When I heard that, I went out to the bookstore and bought a book about colleges so I could find the schools that offered that as a major. While I eventually majored in business management for undergrad so I would have a strong business background with the intention of getting my Master’s in Sports Management, from that point on I knew what I wanted to do for a career.
BOCS.com — You obtained your undergraduate and graduate degree (Master of Sports Management). Is a graduate degree necessary to work in college athletics? Or does it just depend on the position?
MB — A graduate degree is not an absolute. I have had many people who I have hired who did not have a graduate degree. Ultimately you are looking for people who have the skills and experience, a great work ethic, and a positive attitude when you are looking for employees. My desire to get my graduate degree was I wanted to do everything I could to put me in a better position to get hired and I truly wanted to learn the subject matter.
BOCS.com — You worked in the NBA for 17 years before joining the University of Colorado. What motivated you to transition to collegiate athletics?
MB — I loved working in the NBA and professional sports, but the opportunity to come work at such a great institution like the University of Colorado was very appealing on both professional and personal levels. I felt that this is a great time in college sports where there is a lot of change going on in its approaches to sales and marketing, and I wanted to be a part of that. Also, living here in Boulder and working with the great people here were also big factors.
BOCS.com — What does a work day typically look like for you as the University of Colorado’s Associate AD of External Affairs/Chief Marketing Officer?
MB — Like many jobs, there is no typical day. A lot of my time is working with our staff on the various marketing and sales initiatives we have going on. Whether that is digital assets like our website, e-mail and social, or our ticket sales staff making outbound calls, or with our marketing staff working on advertising or game presentation. We work very hard at being collaborative and on brand in everything we do which takes a lot of communication across multiple departments. The variety from day to day is one of the things I love most about this position.
BOCS.com — Did you intern/work for free/volunteer during your undergraduate/graduate career? If yes, where? How valuable were those experiences for you into obtaining that first job?
MB — Internships and volunteering are the key to getting your foot in the door in sports. I worked in multiple capacities during school including recreation departments during undergrad, interning with the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League and at the then Citrus Bowl during grad school, to my full time internship with the Orlando Magic at the end of grad school. All of the experiences prepared me and put me in position to eventually get hired full time with the Magic, which led to being there for 12 years. There is no substitute for work experience in this industry.
BOCS.com — For someone wishing to pursue a career in college athletics, what’s the one key piece of advice you’d give them?
MB — The biggest piece of advice is what I mentioned in the previous answer. Get internships, volunteer with athletic departments, do whatever you can, as early as you can, to get that experience. Beyond the resume building, you will also begin to learn what types of jobs you like and don’t like, which will help in your preparation. The other piece of it is having a great attitude in all that you do. Be appreciative of all opportunities, work as hard as you can in whatever you are doing, and be the person that others can trust and count on. While that sounds simplistic, it is amazing how far that can take you.
Follow Mark on Twitter.