Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NFL Rookie Symposium

By Oumar Ganame (SMBA '11)

This week I had the opportunity to attend the NFL Rookie Symposium at the La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, CA. The Symposium has been conducted every year since its inception in 1997 and teaches incoming NFL players how to handle their new profession on and off the field. It also outlines the NFL’s player programs initiatives, which are divided into four areas: Continuing Education, Financial Education, Career Development, and Player Assistance Services.

With current players continuing to find themselves in legal trouble, the message to the rookies was very clear: Don’t be that guy. Players were educated on their new role in society and encouraged to examine the effects of their choices, decisions, and consequences. They were encouraged to anticipate any conflicts that may arise and to keep from putting themselves in compromising situations. The rookies also heard from former NFL players Marcellus Wiley and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila about the pitfalls of gun ownership.

Stephen Price (SMBA '10) was on hand representing his new employer, the Minnesota Vikings, as was former classmate La’Roi Glover (SMBA '11) who now has the task of continuing this rookie education in his position as Director of Player Programs for the St. Louis Rams. Sam Bradford and company are in very capable hands, and I am sure that no member of the Rams’ or Vikings’ 2010 classes will end up being that guy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The San Diego Padres' DR Academy

By Roberto Castro (SMBA '11)

As a current employee of the San Diego Padres, I anxiously awaited our trip to the Padres' Academy to see for myself how my employer’s efforts had shaped the small beach town of Najayo. On the way there, our crafty bus driver navigated through a humble village that showed no signs of baseball. Then, like an oasis, the Padres' facility stood before our eyes.

At first, it looked as if we were driving up to a five star resort, but the three baseball fields showed us that it was so much more. The current crop of Padres' Latin signees were playing a game against the Baltimore Orioles' farmhands. A crowd of about 200 natives cheered the Padres to victory as 33 students from SDSU joined them enthusiastically. Following the game, we were greeted by three staff members, Cesar, Jesus and Veronica. They gave a fantastic tour of the academy, which included the clubhouse, offices, weight room, and dining hall.

Over the next three days, we were able to enjoy their accommodations (game rooms, sleeping quarters and offices) as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The staff couldn’t have been any friendlier and the facility was definitely first-class. What impressed me the most was that the Padres had a significantly positive effect on the citizens of Najayo, as well as the players who were staying there. They had nothing but positive things to say and a few players commented on how they chose to sign with the Padres because of the Academy. Personally, I had a wonderful experience and I was left with a strong sense of pride knowing that the Padres made it all happen.

Sandy Alderson

By Bailey Axelrod (SMBA '11)

While in Santo Domingo, the SMBA ’11 class had the opportunity to visit the Major League Baseball offices and speak with Sandy Alderson, who is the head of Major League Baseball in the Dominican Republic. Alderson has an impressive career in baseball including being the General Manager of the Oakland A’s from 1983-1997, Executive Vice President of baseball operations for Major League Baseball from 1998-2005, and the CEO of the San Diego Padres from 2005-2009. He just recently began his job in the Dominican Republic, but he is already initiating plans to change the way that baseball operates in the island country.

Alderson is being viewed as a savior for Dominican baseball and as the man that will clean up the system and make it conform to the rules of Major League Baseball in the United States. Alderson took time with the class to explain the current state of baseball in the Dominican Republic. He talked about the current system of unlicensed trainers cashing in on kids’ signing bonuses and the rampant use of steroids by young kids. There is a lot of work to be done, but with his experience and the help of the SMBA class, there is no doubt that Sandy Alderson will be able to make significant changes in the DR.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Banco Esperanza

By Jaime Galiana (SMBA '11)

Banco Esperanza is a NGO that provides microfinance services to impoverished communities. Their philosophy rests in five components: Microcredit, Business training, Savings, Insurance, and group-lending. We visited their offices in Barrio Los Guaricanos, where they explained their principles, operations, and gave us an overview of their reach. After that, we attended one of the business training meetings. While it was taking place I was fortunate enough to strike up a conversation with Yundelia. That conversation is--without a doubt--one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. Yundelia was born poor in the heart of the Dominican Republic and later moved to Santo Domingo and got married. She had 3 kids and 5 grandsons, but she couldn´t provide for them. Her husband worked in construction, but has been out of job for years. Her family survived on charity.

And then Esperanza came along. Yundelia was introduced by a neighbor and, after completing the training meetings, she was granted a RDP 2,000 loan, which she used to buy clothes. She started selling them at a stand in Avenida 27 de Febrero. Today she is about to repay her third loan, a RDP 12,000 loan this time. She owns the original stand in Avenida 27 de Febrero and another one which her husband runs. She has been able to feed her family every single day, she has saved money, she has introduced more than ten women to the bank, and is now thinking of laying concrete in her house floor. And her eyes shine so bright. She even told me, "It´s the best thing that has ever happened to my family, Jaime, the best."

To Give or Not to Give?

By Victoria Hoe (SMBA '11)

While on the trip, I often found myself considering the potential implications of giving away free gifts to the children. Many of our local guides referred frequently to the idea of "paternalism" and the potential of increased dependence on hand-outs. We were also told that roughly a third of the nation's economy was based on remittances, that is, payments from friends and family members in other countries (mainly, the U.S.) back to the D.R.

While baseball has given an enormous amount to the island, it's also created a situation where by many young people see success as a Major League Baseball player as the only option for financial success. I wondered if, by giving a gift as simple as a baseball, we were in fact playing a role in reinforcing a dream that only a small fraction of people will ever achieve. Should we be giving something else? If so, what? Overall, the trip was a great learning experience and provided the framework to ask dificult questions such as these.

Language Barrier?

By Demian Reyes (SMBA '11)

There were a number of things I learned from our DR trip, but one of my biggest takeaways was the language barrier. Many of my classmates were concerned about not knowing Spanish. However, from what I saw, it didn't make a difference.

When we went to Espacios Para Aprender in Najayo and all of us were playing, drawing, painting, etc. with the kids, we didn't have any communication problems. We didn't have to understand every single word the kids said or vice versa to communicate or to understand that they wanted us to be there and we were enjoying every minute of it.

At the end of the day, they just wanted to know we cared. Love and caring doesn't need a translator and that's what we all learned.

The New York Mets' DR Academy

By Aileen Berran (SMBA '11)

While on our trip to the Dominican Republic, we were fortunate to visit many Major League Baseball facilities, including the Padres, Pirates, and Mets' Academies. As it is well known by anyone that meets me, I have been a lifelong Met fan. Therefore, one of the highlights of my trip was being able to visit the Mets' facility in Boca Chica.

While at the facility we got a tour of the facilities, which included the administrative office, the dorms, the locker room, the training room, the gym, and the recreational room. We received information on the organizational structure of the Mets and how the Dominican Academy fits, as it is the low-A for international talent. When we walked in to the office there were two large pictures of Jenrry Mejia and Ruben Tejada, who have both seen some time on the Mets' Major League roster this season. These pictures serve as motivation for the players currently in the academy, as they were both in their shoes just 3-4 years ago.

We visited on a rainy day, so while visiting the recreational room we were greeted by a few players who were watching Party of Five - big fans! They were kind enough to take a picture with us, including a 6'10" pitcher who throws 94 and his best pitch is a slider - I am looking forward to seeing him in Queens sometime in the near future. It was great to see this side of the farm system as the dream for most of these athletes is to just make it to the States, and with proper support from the Major League teams there is a chance for that to happen.

We walked away with some more knowledge on how the Dominican Academy fits in to the Major League organization and some nice Mets' Baseball t-shirts that were provided by Freddy - a very kind coach that some of us befriended.

After our visit to the Academy we visited a medical clinic that the Mets support. This clinic provides HIV/AIDS testing and medication for those in need in the community. It was good to see that it is not all about baseball in the DR, as there are others that need support. I would like to thank the Mets Organization for making me proud, as many of my classmates told me that they walked away with a new found respect for both baseball and the Mets organization.

The Pittsburgh Pirates' DR Academy

By Ryan King (SMBA '11)

Last Wednesday, half the class had the opportunity to visit the new $5 million Pittsburgh Pirates’ Dominican baseball academy. Four things about this beautiful facility stood out to me during our tour. First was the branding of the Pittsburgh Pirates ‘P’ logo throughout the facility. Second were the pictures and memorabilia of Pirates’ legends displayed throughout the building; especially of Pirates’ legend, Roberto Clemente, who was pictured in the first photo we saw when we walked in the front door. Third was the importance the team placed on educating their players. The organization partnered with a local university to teach the players for a month in January, as well as have 3 hours of class per day during the season and then encourages their players to pass equivalence tests for 8th grade and high school. Fourth was the significance the team placed on community service. The team requires their players to all do a minimum of five hours of service per season. They then reward one player who performed the most service with a trip to Pittsburgh to be honored by the major league team.

After visiting the academy, we took a trip to the local school where the Pirates do most of their local service. The team built a brick wall around the school, which the headmaster said was very important for the safety of the students. They also donated tables and computers to the school. Overall, seeing the Pirates academy and the impact that they have on the local community was very enlightening.

Learning From the Najayo Children

By Danielle Arrington (SMBA '11)

At the final dinner of our trip, SDSU's Director of Diversity, Aaron Bruce, told us a story of "picking up stones" which are small treasures that seem insignificant now, but will have a major impact in your life later on down the road. Our trip to Najayo was a major stone. As we drove through the barrio, we were taken to a local school filled with young children eager to greet us with open arms, as evidenced by the Welcome Song each one of us received when we introduced ourselves. It was an amazing experience.

Some of us played football and volleyball with the kids, while others participated in arts and crafts and some how at the end, we all came together in a circle to witness an epic dance battle. Sandy, one of the most outgoing and personable kids I have ever met, challenged me to a battle of who has the better "jerk"...I am sure my classmates will agree that he won that battle.

It's easy for us to think that our visit to Najayo was just a small stepping stone on our path to become sports business professionals, but the gem was seeing how happy my classmates were to make these kids happy. This is the day that I learned the true meaning of joy, a gem that I will carry with me forever.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hay Poder en Aprender

By Alyssa Boyd (SMBA '11)

Having worked for the Red Sox for almost five seasons and being a huge fan from Boston, I was overjoyed to hear that we would be visiting Pedro Martinez's wife, Carolina's, project in the Dominica: Hay Poder en Aprender. A group of about 15 of us trucked on the bus through the barrios and ended up at a beautiful "classroom" and "playground" named Hay Poder en Aprender, or in English, "There's Power in Learning." We were lucky enough to be given a rundown of the facility by Carolina herself, who shared with us her and Pedro's dream to make a difference in the Dominican by giving children in different communities the opportunity to learn and play in a safe environment.

We stayed at the facility for about 2 hours. We started by getting a tour of the place, and then the children who were around (summer camp was going on, so not as many children and teenagers were there), sang for us, and then challenged us to games in volleyball and basketball. The SMBA '11 students managed to keep their game faces on during the pouring rain and competed against the Dominicans in a very intense and different version of "21" and a heated volleyball match. We were lucky enough to interact with the kids--once again battling language barriers--and view just how much of a difference Carolina and her husband have made.

Live Together, Die Alone

By Torrey Winchester (SMBA '11)

The SMBA ‘11 class has spent a lot of time together over the past 6 months. A lot of time. We’re in class three days a week, work outside of class together on projects, and often socialize as a group. To say the least, we are a pretty close group. At least that’s what I thought before we began our adventure in the Dominican Republic. Ten days in the Dominican was enough to make us all realize that we didn’t know each other as well as we thought. We left our beloved room 206 in the Extended Studies Building of SDSU and the informal seating chart that came with it.

The experiences explained here by my classmates were often moving and thought provoking. We were given a lot of time to reflect on those experiences both in classes with Dr. Singh and during our numerous trips on buses around the DR. As we reflected and shared with each other, we came to realize that maybe we weren’t as close as we thought. Now, 10 days later, we all have a new understanding and appreciation for each other and our diverse backgrounds.

The experiences are not something that we will easily forget, and our continually growing friendships won’t fade anytime soon either. It’s only been 12 hours and I’m already missing SMBA ‘11.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Leaving for the DR

After watching Jaime Galiana's (SMBA '11) Spain squad lose to Switzerland this morning, it's now time to pack for the trip to the Dominican Republic. SMBA '11 leaves tonight at 10:50 PM for Santo Domingo.

The San Diego Union-Tribune ran Greg Moore's (SMBA '11) article about the trip:

Union-Tribune DR Story

Thanks to everyone who has donated to the cause over the last 6 months. Stay tuned to the blog to see updates about the trip.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


As preparation for our 9-day trip to the Dominican Republic, Dr. Gangaram Singh has asked that we read Greg Gradin’s Fordlandia. The book chronicles the trials and tribulations that Henry Ford had to deal with in his ambitious bid to export America to the Amazon.

The SMBA ’11 class needs to finish Fordlandia, write a 3-page personal reflection on the book, as well as prepare a class presentation regarding International Business.

The class will be boarding a flight to Atlanta in 24 hours and will be in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic by the afternoon of Thursday, June 17. Follow the SMBA ’11 DR adventures on the blog.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Guest Speaker: Barry Axelrod

Barry Axelrod, sports agent and father of Bailey Axelrod (SMBA ’11), visited our Sports & Society class today to discuss a wide variety of topics. Axelrod, a graduate of UCLA Law School, specializes in sports, entertainment, and business law. He has served on the US Anti-Doping Committee and has a client list that includes Jake Peavy, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Matt Morris, and Michelle Kwan. Due to his personality and client list, he has been referred to as “agent to the good guys”.

Axelrod discussed issues regarding performance enhancing drugs, health, entitlement, and image protection. In reference to image protection, Axelrod noted that “pictures are the new autograph”. In reference to entitlement, Axelrod said that parents, youth coaches, and scouts need to act more ethically.

But, his most important advice was: “Be willing to change if you’re not happy with something.”

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup Starts!

And so it begins. South Africa and Mexico played to a 1-1 tie this morning to kick-off the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The SMBA ’11 has students from nine different countries, so the class is well-represented in this event. The big matchup is USA vs. England tomorrow, but here are some classmates with certain alliances:

Jaime Galiana – Spain
Mariska Roodenrijs – Netherlands
Jimyong Moon – South Korea
Marta Tagliaferri – Italy
Demian Reyes – Mexico

Of course, a number of students from SMBA ’11 will be supporting the US.

Conference Realignment

What a great time to be getting a Sports MBA. First, the American Needle case is decided and now NCAA Conferences are changing, including San Diego State’s own Mountain West. Boise State joins the Mountain West, Colorado joins the Pac-10, and Nebraska is now in the Big 10.

Expect more changes in the near future.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Early Stage Entrepreneurs

In order to gain knowledge on challenges faced by early stage entrepreneurs, Professor DeNoble brought in four such entrepreneurs. The panel consisted of Andrew Beinbrink of, Brian Allman of Sweet Spot Golf, Mark Price of Firewire Surfboards, and Mike Fontana of

All four entrepreneurs provided insight, the stories of their business ventures, obstacles faced, and even shared feedback on the business ideas that the SMBA ’11 class are currently developing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rockin' the Half-Marathon

By Katie Araujo (SMBA '11)

The Competitor Group Inc.’s Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & ½ Marathon marked my first Half Marathon, and soon transformed me in 1:49:49 from an endurance enthusiast to a distance fanatic. Arriving to Corral 4 before the sun rose, I knew I was in for a day I would always remember. From the numerous training miles completed up to receiving my official bib at the Expo the day before, it had been an incredible journey to the start line. Tying my timing chip to my shoe and clipping my race belt around my waist, I twisted my bib forward and gulped down a prerace GU for a quick energy boost. The cheering escalated and before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line with a smile on my face and a sense of accomplishment unlike any other.

From newbies to seasoned competitors, they truly make everyone feel like a rockstar. Reflecting on my experience, the following presents 13.1 reasons why I am hooked on the Competitor Group’s events:

1. Atmosphere & Community: surrounded by 30,000 of my closest friends, a sense of excitement filled the air. Lining the course, fans showed up by the thousands to cheer on the runners. From the likes of Entertainment Tonight’s Samantha Harris kicking off the event to troops of Elvis impersonators, it was definitely a site to see.

2. Race Course: beginning in downtown San Diego and running past a variety of signature attractions in America’s Finest City, there was plenty of scenery on our trek to the finish line at SeaWorld.

3. Health & Fitness Expo: two days prior to the race, the Expo hosted more than 100 exhibitors offering free samples and showcasing the latest in running gear. While stocking up on race day essentials, I was joined by the likes of Ronaldinho and Kat Von Dee – amazing? I sure think so.

4. Rock Bands: keeping the participants stoked and motivated, the various bands on the course kept me pumped up. I even found myself doing the YMCA while running down the 163!

5. Fans: costumed and creative, fans and spirit squads alike cheered the runners every step of the way. From pompoms to cowbells, the added boost of enthusiasm made everyone feel like they had their own cheering section!

6. Free Swag: provided with a tech tee and Goodie Bag of fun giveaways, each participant receives the star treatment. Even going so far as to ensure adequate nutrition was available throughout the race, CGI made sure us runners were able to keep our energy levels high.

7. Volunteers: without a doubt the efforts of the volunteers and our SMBA’s made this race a success. Located at the set-up, pre-registration, the Health & Fitness Expo, the Start Line, Finish Line, and water stations along the course, these all-stars helped take away the race day jitters and allowed me to focus on the challenge ahead.

8. Charity: going above and beyond, the 2010 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & ½ Marathon benefitted the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It was incredibly inspiring to see a sea of purple ‘Team in Training’ jerseys sprinkled throughout the course. Charities have raised over $210 million (net) for their respective causes through the R’n’R Marathon Series since 1998.

9. Training Plans: providing guidance and motivation, CGI offers race specific training plans to keep you on track for accomplishing your goals. These daily emails gave me a sense of confidence and allowed me to track my fitness up to the big day.

10. Medals: who doesn’t love receiving some serious bling after achieving a huge accomplishment? All finishers are awarded a medal at the finish line to wear with pride.

11. Post Race Concert: after filling up on bananas and Cytomax, it was time to get down and celebrate! Where else can you roll through a half marathon and then rock out at a concert in your honor?

12. Pictures & Videos: taken throughout the course, professional photographers capture the moment and allow you to relive your experience. Going a step further, they send you a clip of you in all your glory crossing the finish line – this was icing on the cake!

13.1. It’s a SERIES: after having the time of my life, I was beyond excited to check out their website and learn of the other great locations in the series. Riding the post race high, I signed up for the R’n’R Las Vegas ½ Marathon and hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dr. Lackritz on Strasburg's MLB Debut

Stephen Strasburg, an SDSU alum and highly-touted Washington Nationals' pitcher, made his first Major League appearance tonight. In 7 innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Strasburg struck out 14, walked none, and only yielded two runs on four hits.

Before Strasburg took the mound tonight, Dr. Lackritz offered his insights to for an article regarding Strasburg's financial impact:

Congratulations to Dr. Lackritz on the nice publicity and, of course, SDSU's Stephen Strasburg.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rock 'n' Roll Marathon

By Lawren Wolf (SMBA '11)

The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon is a series of marathons and half marathons that the Competitor Group Inc., a San Diego based platform media and race event company, puts on throughout the country. These races combine the feel of a rock concert into an endurance event with live music throughout the course and are highlighted by a headlining concert at the finish line. This morning marked the 13th running of the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. The race, which consisted of over 30,000 from all over the world, started on 6th Avenue in front of Balboa Park, passed through PETCO Park and the runners crossed the finish line at SeaWorld.

Ben Fox, an employee of the Competitor Group and a member of the SDSU SMBA ‘09, came to our class about a month ago and asked if any of us wanted to volunteer to work the event as corral captains and a group of twelve of us jumped at the opportunity to help out. The only catch was that we all had to report for duty at 3:30 AM the morning of the race! As corral captains, we were each in charge of smaller groups of volunteers and we all helped to make sure the runners were in their proper corrals and relaxed before their big race. With the music blaring, the first corral of runners was released at 6:15 AM and our volunteers dropped the starting line and let them pass. Within an hour, all 39 corrals had been released and the race was well underway. After helping to clean up the park and break down the starting line area, we were done volunteering and were free to head to SeaWorld to celebrate at the finish line. Overall, it was a great experience!

In addition to over one-third of the class volunteering for the event, a group of five of our classmates actually ran and completed the Rock 'n' Roll 1/2 Marathon. Congratulations to Katie Araujo, Alyssa Boyd, Jessica Ceresino, Tana Prosper and Krista Washington!

Volunteer Coordinating for NCAA Golf Regional

By Jodi Hutchinson (SMBA '11)

A couple of months ago I was asked to be the Head Volunteer Coordinator for the 2010 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Regional hosted by San Diego State at Carlton Oaks Golf Course. I have had many amazing volunteer opportunities since beginning this year as a Sports MBA student but, I must say, this one turned out to be the most challenging and valuable experience of them all.

Due to my previous experience in the golf industry, the SDSU athletic department and the San Diego Sports Commission felt I could help them figure out how and where to search for volunteers. I have to admit at first I thought to myself that even though I had experience in the golf business I lacked the resources to find the 42 volunteers needed each day; not because I didn’t think I could do it, but simply because I am from Chicago and just moved here in January! My golf coach always told me to act as if, meaning act as if you had been there before and the only thing you could always be good at was faking it until you make it. So, that is exactly what I did.

One of the many valuable lessons I learned is nothing ever goes according to plan and learning how to deal with that is an important skill that will go a long way in business and the sports industry. I have to be honest, this job put me under a lot of pressure and I struggled to act as if a lot of the time I was searching for volunteers. Having this opportunity also helped me learn that people are more willing to help than you might think. They are even willing to help a complete stranger like myself.

My job would not have been successful without the help of the volunteers. The NCAA was happy and San Diego State University and Carlton Oaks were deemed great hosts, which is what makes me most proud. Any type of event in sports rarely happens without a large amount of volunteer help. So, I must give thanks to all of the volunteers for this event, because even if you do not think you make a difference, you truly do!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Flag Football: MILLSWAD Ends Season

Since exercise and non-school outlets are necessary, the SMBA '11 successfully organized a flag football team to participate in an 8-game season. The team name was MILLSWAD, in honor of one of our favorite sayings from Dr. Lackritz, and athletic prowess was certainly on display during all 8 games.

MILLSWAD finished the season at 3-5.

Graduation for Class of 2010

This morning the SDSU Sports MBA Class of 2010 graduated. Graduation was at PETCO Park and featured a commencement address from San Diego Padres' President Tom Garfinkel.

Congratulations to the graduates of the Class of 2010!

Friday, June 4, 2010

John Wooden Passes Away

Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden died of natural causes at the age of 99 today. Wooden is considered one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, building a dynasty at UCLA with 10 national championships. Seven of those were consecutive, between 1967 and 1973.

Wooden's passing is important for the SMBA '11, as many guest speakers and professors have recommended Wooden's books. His books, advice, and life lessons all lend themselves to success on and off the basketball court and will surely help the class navigate the challenges faced in the sports industry.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Congratulations to La’Roi Glover

Classmate La’Roi Glover has accepted a job for the St. Louis Rams where he will help young players make the transition to professional football and learn how to deal with off-the-field matters. The SMBA ’11 class found out last week, but the official announcement was made today that the Rams hired La’Roi as Director of Player Programs.

La’Roi spent his final three seasons in the NFL playing for St. Louis before retiring in 2008. He was the unofficial leader of our class and—whether he likes it or not—he has 33 friends that will be staying in touch.

SMBA ’11 wishes La’Roi all the best and we’ll miss him the rest of the year. Congratulations!