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USM Sport Management Collaborates with New Orleans Pelicans

Mon, 12/16/2019 - 01:01pm | By: Van Arnold

The University of Southern Mississippi Sport Management program collaborated with NBA member New Orleans Pelicans in its sport marketing class this fall semester, enabling undergraduate students to be involved in the professional ticket sales process.

Dr. Chris Croft, Assistant Professor of Sport Management, and Jesse Nantz, New Orleans Pelicans Senior Group Sales Account Executive, spearheaded the joint effort.

“With their recent off-season excitement, I thought it would be a great opportunity to collaborate with the Pelicans and enable our students to gain valuable experience in the sport marketing and sales process,” said Croft.

Nantz stated, “This was the first year of bringing our College Sales Program to a college in the state of Mississippi. Being a new partner in this program and considering the distance from New Orleans, we were not sure how effective the program would be.  However, the students were very responsive to the tasks presented to them and excited to learn what it takes to sell professional sports.  Even when they were faced with new challenges, such as injuries to key Pelicans players, the students sought unique solutions to continue to sell the Pelicans experience.”

Nantz orchestrated three training sessions through the course of the semester that included:

  • Sales process including promotions
  • Role play and cross selling
  • Closing the deal and dealing with challenges

The first session introduced the students about the Pelicans’ franchise including recent events with the NBA No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson, and the sales process including promotions. The second session focused on role-play situations and cross selling.

Students were able to participate in both seller and buyer roles to better understand the sales process and learned about how to expand their sales reach through their personal contacts. The third session included closing the deal and trying to overcome challenges on the sale.

“Unfortunately the Pelicans’ season has not started out as anticipated with key injuries, but this afforded our students to learn the increased challenges in sports marketing and sales when dealing with injuries and a slow start when dealing with potential fans,” said Croft.

Added Nantz, “To date, the class was able to assist the Pelicans in over $6,000 in financial revenue, and we are looking forward to continuing this partnership with future classes.”

To learn more about the Sport Management program at USM, call 601.266.4627 or visit: