Learning through experience: AU sports management program adds initiative with Cleveland Browns


Ashland University

Steve Shrenkel, Reporter

The Ashland University Sports Management program added a new initiative with the Cleveland Browns this past fall semester that allowed students to work with and the see the day to day operations of the organization.

Students who partook in it this year gained sales experience, had one-on-one networking meetings with executives in the Browns organization and took a tour of their facility in Berea, Ohio.

Dr. Lance Kaltenbaugh, associate professor of sports management at AU and chair of the marketing, hospitality management, and fashion merchandising departments, said he had reached out to someone from the Browns earlier in the year.

“About nine months ago I received a business card from Victoria Leahy and contacted her,” Kaltenbaugh said. “We were never really able to get our foot in the door until now a lot in part because of the distance. She works in sales and our students in sports management seemed to express interest in getting more experience in sales.”

This initiative was special to just Ashland University, Kaltenbaugh said.

“We are the only University in which the Cleveland Browns work with us in this type of initiative in which we sell tickets to a game,” Kaltenbaugh said. “The students learn about the sales process, they learn about the sales techniques, just the ins and outs of how to be successful. They actually get to sell the tickets.”

Around 25 students participated in the Browns program this past semester. One of those students was AU student and sports management sophomore, Amelia Dunwoodie.

She said that going to the facility was a great experience for her, especially seeing how all of the different departments work together, she said.

“Trying to describe this facility does not do it justice,” Dunwoodie said. “Going to the facility was a great experience to understand how all the departments work together. We had the lead of several different departments come in and discuss their job description on a day to day basis.”

Kaltenbaugh said that allowing students to learn through experience was the goal of this initiative for him, he said.

“We wanted to do something about ‘Learning Through Experience’ to get out of the classroom and collaborate with the industry as much as we can because that allows us to build relationships and partnerships with sports businesses,” Kaltenbaugh said.

There were only a few simple requirements that she had to meet in order to attend the initiative, she said.

“It was a pretty simple application process,” Dunwoodie said. “All we had to do was take a quiz over Cleveland Browns history, write an application on why we wanted to attend, describe why this trip would help us professionally and sell at least two Browns tickets. It was easy to apply.”

The program really helped her to make many different connections for internship possibilities down the line, Dunwoodie said.

“This was able to help me professionally decide what aspects of the job I enjoyed,” Dunwoodie said. “I now have connections to several different departments for opportunities if I would potentially like to get an internship with the Cleveland Browns.”

AU student Isaac Payne, a junior sports management major, said that the program offers an invaluable experience for students.

“It gives people in the sports management program a lot of different opportunities to network with the Browns organization and potentially gets their foot in the door for a job later down the line,” he said.

Payne wasn’t able to attend the initiative this past semester due to scheduling conflicts but would love to go next year since he’s also a huge Browns fan, he said.

“I couldn’t this year because of my schedule and the class was full that you had to be in to take this trip,” Payne said. “I’ve been a Browns fan ever since I was born and would love to work for the organization one day so I’d love to go next year.”

Since the initiative was very successful, AU’s sports management program and the Cleveland Browns have already discussed the potential for program plans for the fall of 2019.

Payne said that he’s not going to miss out on an opportunity like this once again.

“I plan to go next year no questions asked,” Payne said. “It’s just such a great opportunity that I don’t want to miss out on again.”

Dunwoodie recommends that anyone interested in trying to work in the sports businesses should try and apply for the program.

“I highly recommend anyone who would like to get there foot in the door to attend a facility like this,” Dunwoodie said. “It will better help you understand how you are able to move forward professionally.”

Kaltenbaugh said that they plan on doing this initiative again next year and that the Browns actually reached out to him after they had sold tickets.

“Victoria reached out three days after we had reached our goal for selling tickets and said my boss wants us to do this again next year,” Kaltenbaugh said. “The Browns reached out to us and said we want to do it again next year.”

Kaltenbaugh wants more students to become involved, he said.

“I’m going to get more classes and more students involved and want to double ticket sales for next year,” Kaltenbaugh said. “I want to get more students involved in the actual industry. You can’t teach that in a classroom.”