Sports symposium fields range of topics, hosts NFL kicker

From left, Daniel Sixsmith and NFL placekicker Patrick Murray at the Fordham Sports Business Symposium held on March 26.

From left, Daniel Sixsmith and NFL placekicker Patrick Murray at the Fordham Sports Business Symposium held on March 26.

By Joe Vitale, GabelliConnect freelance writer

The Fordham Business of Sports Society kicked off its annual symposium last week with a group of speakers and panelists who addressed topics ranging from endorsements to stadium financing.

The symposium, held at Flom Auditorium, started with a welcome from D.J. Sixsmith, president of the Business of Sports Society, and Associate Professor Mark Conrad, director of the Sports Business Program at the Gabelli School of Business.

Along with a number of networking events, speakers and panels, the symposium hosted Patrick Murray, a Fordham graduate and kicker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as keynote speaker.

Murray shared the story of his rise from a top collegiate kicker in the nation to a starting kicker in the National Football League.

Speaking about the NFL draft, Murray warned there are a lot of promises made to athletes leading up to draft day, but that a lot coaches “say one thing and mean another.”

“But that shouldn’t let that deter you from pursuing your goals,” said Murray, who had tryouts for a number of teams before finding a spot on the Buccaneers under coach Lovie Smith.

His discussion focused on the business aspect as well as the day-to-day competitiveness of the NFL.

“You are expendable in this league; you are just a number,” Murray said, noting that cuts happen weekly for many players. “Most people don’t see the tough side of the league. They just see the glamour on Sundays, but rosters change week to week.”

“But I’m extremely blessed to do my job,” he said before thanking Fordham’s programs and opening the floor to questions.

Others speakers include Richard “Big Daddy” Salgado, of Coastal Advisors LLC, who spoke about the insurance side of sports, and Vince Gennaro, director at Columbia University Graduate Sports Management Program and president of the Society for American Baseball Research, who spoke about upcoming trends in sports.

Kosta Demopoulos, GABELLI BS ’15, one of the coordinators of the symposium, said one of the most valuable aspects of the event was the range of topics discussed.

“It is great we are able to get so many interests here with the help of so many different speakers,” Demopoulos said. “There’s a lot of opportunities to make connections.”

Among several panels, one of the most attended was a discussion that focused on women and the sports business. The panel included Elizabeth Boylan of ESPN; Cheryl Mark, FCRH ’99, of GroupM Entertainment and Sports Partnership; and Leigh Castergine, a digital marketing and sales consultant.

There was also a strong focus on the intersection of the digital boom and sports, with a panel featuring Larry Berger of USA Today Sports, Kevin Clancy, Brian Dermody of Spike TV, Sarah Kustok of YES Network, and Joe Yanarella, FCRH ’85, of Bleacher Report.

Nina Ottaviano, GABELLI BS ’15, who helped organize the event along with Demopoulos, Conrad and Sixsmith, also attributed the events success to the range of topics presented throughout the day.

“The schedule is diverse and really encompasses a lot of topics, from sports management to insurance, to accounting,” Ott said. “It is also a great resource for Fordham college students, and really any student for that matter.”

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