SBD/Issue 152/Sports Industrialists

Sports Marketing Trailblazer James Warsaw Passes Away At 61

Warsaw Passes
Away At 61
Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Founder JAMES WARSAW passed away Wednesday at the age of 61 from complications from infections, and his funeral was held yesterday at Temple Bat Yahm in Newport Beach, California, according to Claire Noland of the L.A. TIMES. Warsaw "helped change the perception of sports from games with bats and balls to a business of dollars and cents." Warsaw in '94 donated $250,000 in seed money to launch the Sports Marketing Center, which was the "first endowed sports marketing program in the nation to be associated with the business college of a major U.S. public university." The center "trains sports executives and other industry professionals, offering undergraduate courses as well as being integrated into the master's of business administration program." Warsaw was a "hands-on mentor who offered real-world experience to students." Sports Business Group President and USC-Marshall Sports Business Institute Exec Dir DAVID CARTER said Warsaw was a "trailblazer in this area, knowing and believing that sports was a business and had to be treated as a business, and consequently, we had to educate young people who wanted to be in the business." Carter: "Realizing the need to truly prepare these young people for a career in sports was a major part of his legacy." Noland noted Warsaw and his brother, ROBERT, in '93 sold their family business, Sports Specialties Corp., to Nike for $78M, which "made the academic endeavor possible" (L.A. TIMES, 4/26). In Portland, Kevin Hudson noted Sports Specialties was the "first company to sign a licensing contract with a professional sports team," the Cubs, and the company's "first such licensed product was an ashtray shaped in the likeness of Wrigley Field." The Warsaw family grew Sports Specialties into the "leading licensed sports hat company," and it became the "first official licensee of the NFL, and also was the first to supply official hats to championship locker rooms at events such as the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and the NCAA Final Four" (, 4/24).

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