The Haslam Sports Group has launched a new Diversity and Opportunity Fellowship designed to improve the pipeline of diverse future sports industry leaders.
The year-long sports business fellowship will provide a unique, immersive opportunity to high-potential, diverse recent college graduates. The fellowship program will provide a range of experiences in several sports business disciplines across the two major league professional sports teams that comprise Haslam Sports Group (Cleveland Browns and Columbus Crew SC) to expand the participants' knowledge of and experience in the business of professional sports, and prepare them for a successful career in this exciting and dynamic industry.
"Dee and Jimmy have always pushed us to identify areas that we can improve upon as an organization. When you look at the executive level on the business side across all sports, it quickly becomes apparent that there is a lack of diversity in leadership roles. We recognize the importance of diversity and how it can benefit our organization and the industry as a whole. As a senior leadership team, we asked ourselves, 'How can we help address this issue?' and we decided to focus on improving the pipeline." said David Jenkins, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Haslam Sports Group. "Our football leadership — Paul DePodesta, Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski — have done a tremendous job prioritizing diversity, and we are doing the same on the business side. I think it shows great cohesion between the two sides of the organization and will further help us achieve our top priorities, which are to win consistently, take great care of our fans and give back to the community."
Four fellows will be selected to join Haslam Sports Group immediately following their 2021 college graduation (early July – late June). Over the course of the year-long program, the fellows will rotate across the following four disciplines, receiving introductions to and substantive work experience in: sales, marketing, operations and administration.
"If you don't know the industry, you may not realize how complex it is and the various departments and skills that exist within our organization," Jenkins said. "To have exposure to that, I think it just prepares you and helps you determine what your interests are, which then should help you choose your career path and develop the necessary skills. You may not know what the path is or what the opportunities are, but if we can help you determine how your interests translate to the industry, we can create some alignment for you, and that should help as they contemplate the next steps within their careers ."
Fellows will receive real-world, hands-on experience across a range of disciplines for two professional sports teams as well as formal education, mentorship and development throughout the program from staff at various levels at both the Browns and the Crew. Fellows will be provided with an annual salary and housing in Cleveland and Columbus.
"Working for the Browns and the Crew will be two very different experiences," Jenkins said. "It will give any person entering the sports business an advantage because they're seeing it in two different places, in two different leagues that are executing in unique ways. To have that experience in a year, to go back and forth between the organizations, should only make them more prepared for full-time employment."
Though it is not anticipated fellows will receive a full-time employment offer with a Haslam Sports Group club upon conclusion of the fellowship program, the organization expects to provide assistance to its fellows in finding a full-time sports industry position and will keep in touch with program alumni well after the fellowship program.
Haslam Sports Group will accept applications from Monday, Aug. 31, to Friday, Sept. 25. Interviews will be conducted from Oct. 12, to Nov. 13, and offers will be extended by Nov. 20.
Haslam Sports Group embraces the positive impact of sports and its unique opportunity to unify communities. Through the Haslam and Johnson families network of industry experience and relationships, their mission is to create world class organizations that achieve sustainable success, provide a best in class fan experience, and give back to their region. They see themselves as stewards of true community assets. HSG looks to invest in strategic sports and entertainment opportunities. Haslam Sports Group's current portfolio includes the Cleveland Browns, Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew SC, and an investment in Misfits Gaming Group, a global esports and entertainment company.
"It really starts at the beginning with how can we attract really talented diverse candidates out of school, introduce them to the industry, give them a broad set of experiences that they can hopefully parlay into future opportunities in the industry and — if it ever comes full circle — with us," Jenkins said. "We're just doing our part for a long-term solution."