The 15th Annual Robert Morris Sport Management Conference took place this past Saturday at the Sheraton Airport hotel. As the name suggests, it was the 15th such conference, which originally began back in 2003. The conference saw students attend from as far south as South Carolina and as far west as Iowa.
“(The 15th year) is a tremendous satisfaction,” said Dr. David Synowka, the department head of the sport management program at Robert Morris. “When we started out, it was always about being student focus and continuing to be student focus. The engagement of not only our alumni but also in terms of past attendees that come back and are part of the industry is just phenomenal.”
This year, the conference expanded on its dive into esports. Other changes to the industry in the past 15 years include the additions of analytics and social media. All of those are updates that the planning team has added to their conference over the years.
“I try to keep up with all the trends that are going on,” said Synowka. “When I look in terms of (changing) I look at analytics. For example, in the last two years, we offer workshops in analytics. I look at how social media, particularly in content in storytelling, has emerged and, as you heard, is replacing direct advertising. We created a workshop on that. We look in terms of esport. We created a panel and it brought back leaders in the esport industry. We’re trying to keep up with what’s current and anticipate the future.”
The last four years, the conference has landed at least 30 students jobs, according to Dr. Synowka. Those jobs have ranged from internships to entry-level and, in terms of departments, have ranged from sales positions to social media.
“You look at Jaima Schiffer,” said Dr. Synowka, “who was my first student associate and you look at where she is today. You look at our past students who are very successful in the industry. Nathan DiLorenzo, for example, is with the (Detroit) Lions. I think we’re doing a pretty decent job.”
As far as the future of the conference goes, the staff of the Robert Morris School of Business expects it to continue to grow and adapt. Again, as the industry changes, the conference has changed with it and it is reasonable to expect it to change in future iterations.
“I see the conference continuing to grow,” said the Dean of the School of Business, Dr. Michelle Partick. “I believe that this is a great opportunity for our students, it’s impact at its best. We have so many students getting jobs, getting internships, making connections and learning about the industry. I see that continuing to grow over the years.”
Next year’s conference will also take place in October. The big difference for next year’s conference is that the 16th Sport Management Conference will take place at the UPMC Events Center located on the Robert Morris campus. If someone is on the fence about attending the conference next year, Dr. Synowka says to “jump in with both feet and become fully immersed.”