May 9, 2024

Sports Management Program Advisory Board Adds Another All-Star

Steve Schanwald, a trailblazer in sports marketing, began his journey by volunteering under Russ Potts at the University of Maryland. His tenure with the Chicago Bulls solidified his reputation. Now, he joins the Sports Management Program Advisory Board, enriching the future of sports industry professionals.

Steve SchanwaldBefore sports marketing became a billion-dollar industry and before earning his degree in general studies, Steve Schanwald ’77 knew he wanted to score a career in sports.

As an undergraduate student, Schanwald sought out the University of Maryland’s Russ Potts, the first sports marketing director in the history of collegiate athletics. During his sophomore year, he walked into Potts’ office seeking two things—career guidance and a job. Potts expressed that he couldn’t pay him, but Schanwald offered to work for free. In the end, he got everything he wanted and more.

“My decision to work there for free led to everything in my career that followed. It was the greatest decision I ever made. My education was primarily working in the athletic department for Russ Potts in the sports marketing office. Russ, a trailblazer and a legend in this industry, became like a second father, mentor and cheerleader for me,” says Schanwald.

Schanwald, former executive vice president of business operations with the Chicago Bulls, spent over 28 years building the organization into a world-class brand through the Michael Jordan era and beyond. After Jordan’s departure, the team compiled the worst six-year win/loss record in NBA history for a non-expansion team while leading the NBA in cumulative attendance. Schanwald took pride in the fact “that we were able to keep the building full and lead the league in total attendance over that six-year stretch.”

Now, Schanwald is bringing his expertise to the Sports Management Program Advisory Board. The board includes a number of alumni who are leaders in the industry from college sports, the WNBA, the NHL, the NFL, MLB and ESPN. The 12-credit program represents a partnership between the Robert H. Smith School of Business, the School of Public Health's Department of Kinesiology, the Philip Merrill College of Journalism's Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and Maryland Athletics.

“Steve's wealth of expertise in building the Chicago Bulls to become the world's greatest sports franchise is unparalleled. His passion and experience in the field of Sports Management will undoubtedly elevate our program to be the best in the nation. We eagerly welcome him to our sports management advisory board,” says Dean Prabhudev Konana.

Schanwald looks forward to “making a contribution to the future success of this university, which gave me my start, and to its students.” He recalls the mentors like Potts and others who helped him along the way. By paying his mentors’ contributions forward, Schanwald is passing on the same guidance and support he received to the next generation of sports industry professionals.

“Now today, I can look on top of the mountain and see some people standing there that I had a small role in helping get there,” he says.

The Sports Management Program aims to develop undergraduate leaders with the skills, foundational knowledge and educational opportunities to pursue careers and professional opportunities in the sports industry. The program will also give students opportunities to participate in specialized programming such as site visits, sports industry career fairs, networking nights and sporting events.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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