Written by: 
Leigh Anne Gullett
Photography by: 
Michael Clements

had Wynn's ('05) office is half packed in boxes. He digs a personalized Louisville Slugger out of his "keep" pile, slings it across one shoulder and strolls across the street to the nearly finished, billion-dollar Globe Life Field he soon will call home. The Texas Rangers' director of business partnerships, he has been with the club for almost 15 years, and the bat was a gift commemorating his 10th season in a job he dreamt about his entire life.

"I'll do anything. I'll cut the grass. I'll cook the hot dogs, but I really want to be in sales," Wynn remembers telling Rangers executives in 2006. It wasn't his first meeting with his future employers -- or his second, or even third. He remembers hearing "no" a lot. But Wynn had decided this was the career for him.

"So I came out one last time, and in essence said, 'I'm not leaving here until you hire me,'" Wynn says. "And they were like, 'That's a little weird. We have security for that, but we appreciate the passion.'"

A few months later, Wynn finally got the call. The Rangers hired him for inside sales.

A path to the top
Bob Heere and Isabel Pate
Bob Heere, director of UNT's growing sport management program, with junior Isabel Pate at UNT at Frisco

UNT’s sport entertainment management program exists for students who, like Wynn, are certain they are destined for careers as leaders in sports franchises. The program, housed at UNT at Frisco, includes a sport entertainment management track as part of a B.B.A. in business integrated studies, as well as an M.B.A. in sport entertainment management.

Bob Heere was appointed the program's director in 2018, and already he's launched an annual Texas Sport Entertainment Industry (TSEI) conference, as well as a new 36-credit-hour professional online M.B.A. in partnership with the Dallas Cowboys, which begins this fall.

It will offer six specialization courses: sports in the global marketplace, corporate partnerships, analytics, event operations, talent management and consultancy.

Heere says he has all the pieces to build one of the best programs in the world, and his goals are very clear: He expects UNT to lead the way in undergraduate and graduate sport business education, and in industry engagement and research.

To meet that goal, Heere has spent significant time nurturing industry relationships, engaging with UNT alumni like Wynn, and putting together an advisory board of industry executives who span practically every possible area of sport.

Advisory board member Eric Sudol, vice president of corporate partnership sales and marketing for the Dallas Cowboys, is an integral part of the university's relationship with the franchise. He delivered the keynote address at Heere's inaugural TSEI conference last spring and has been heavily involved in developing the online M.B.A. program.

"I'm energized about the opportunities Bob is creating for students," Sudol says. "The combination of the Cowboys' multi-faceted business success and UNT's academic rigor is special."

Embracing opportunities
Risa Hall
Risa Hall ('04 M.J.)

Like Sudol, Risa Hall ('04 M.J.) serves on Heere's advisory board and touts the importance of grasping opportunity. A senior executive with the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Hall wasn't focused on sports in college or early in her career. Her original track was public relations, and she came to UNT as a graduate student while working full-time in Dallas.

She crossed paths with the Dallas Mavericks during her time with Dallas CBS affiliate KTVT, and then with Deion Sanders when she worked as an executive for a local car company.

Hall grew up playing basketball and competing in track, but an athletic career never crossed her mind. She focused her job search on off-the-field public relations and community relations positions. Hall eventually landed a community relations role for the Houston Texans, which sent her on a whole new path within the industry.

While in Houston, Hall became involved with the local organizing committee for the 2011 NCAA Men's Final Four. Because the staff was small enough, she dipped into the operations and logistics side of running major events. Nearly a decade later, Hall's world is a far cry from her early days in television.

"If I could give any advice to students," Hall says, "it would be to take advantage of as many internships as you can and connect with the people you meet, maximizing your relationships and networking as much as you can."

Mason Hendrix
Mason Hendrix ('19)

If there is a poster child for following the path Heere and his advisory board have presented, Mason Hendrix ('19) is it. Not only did Hendrix recently graduate from UNT with his B.B.A. in sport entertainment management, the Frisco native parlayed his final internship into a full-time job.

"I really got a lot from Dr. Heere," Hendrix says. "His connections in this area and really wanting to see us succeed, being able to connect well with all the major sports teams and having the business-specific classes -- all of that was invaluable."

Hendrix always knew he wanted to work in sports, going back to his high school days when he got a job with the Frisco RoughRiders through Frisco ISD. He returned to the RoughRiders the summer of his junior year at UNT, then added an internship in ticket sales at the UNT athletics department.

His final internship before graduating was with Legends, a joint venture between Yankee Global Enterprises and the Dallas Cowboys. The food, beverage, merchandise retail and stadium operations corporation serves entertainment venues and companies.

Hendrix was an intern in its global partnerships department, where he helped sales staff with prospecting potential clients.

When Hendrix graduated, the company had an opening for a group sales executive at The Star in Frisco, and he says it was a pretty easy transition from his six-month internship into the full-time position. He credits the relationship between UNT and the Cowboys with getting his foot in the door for that first interview.

It's the key Wynn didn't have in 2004 -- one that makes the path from dream to reality a little bit clearer.

"If students really take advantage of somebody as passionate as Bob, and the university for bringing this program on, they're going to be exposed to executives across all professional and minor league sports and all the different venues across DFW and, potentially, throughout the state and the nation," Wynn says. "That exposure and the ability to sync up with these people on LinkedIn and have an email or a phone conversation is going to give them nuggets they can use in an interview or first coming into the workforce."

Real-world experience

Junior Isabel Pate earned her associate degree in business from Collin College and transferred to UNT last fall. Although it's only her second semester in the sport entertainment management program, she's already working on her resume.

When you can be thrust into real-life working scenarios in the sports world and have networking opportunities ... that's going to differentiate these students from the thousands upon thousands of resumes we get every year.
Chad Wynn ('05)

Heere expects his students to earn at least five line items on their resumes outside the classroom by the time they graduate. The program requires one internship, but students are encouraged to do two.

"We tell them to volunteer," says Heere, noting the abundance of volunteer opportunities in the DFW area. "We actually tell them to try to start working part-time in the sports industry because this is one of the few markets where you can do that. You can be an usher. You can be a ticket taker. We tell them to get engaged and become involved."

Pate has been following Heere's advice, working with the Dallas Sports Commission during the State Fair and again for the NHL's Winter Classic, in addition to a U.S. Paralympics swimming competition.

A North Texas native, she first read about the sport entertainment management program online and says she feels like the degree was "literally created for me."

"There are so many sports in the Frisco area that it just seems like the ideal situation," she says.

"I think that's what drew me the most."

Pate's assessment is spot-on according to Wynn, and pretty much everybody else involved with the programs Heere is building.

"When you can be thrust into real-life working scenarios in the sports world and have networking opportunities with folks who have been doing this their entire careers, that's going to differentiate these students from the thousands upon thousands of resumes we get every year," Wynn says. "That's what I look for when hiring young people."

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