SBJ/November 29 - December 5, 2004/SBJ In Depth

Elevator Up

The following is a sampling fo top team executives who went the MBA route, albeit typically without a sports business focus.


Larry Baer
San Francisco Giants chief operating officer was the franchise’s marketing director when he left for Harvard B-school with the intent of moving to the entertainment industry. He made his bones at Westinghouse Broadcasting and CBS before returning to the Giants with a stake in the team.

Dave Montgomery
Philadelphia Phillies general partner and CEO got his Wharton MBA in 1970 and still had to start off selling season and group tickets when he joined the franchise in 1971. He was named executive vice president in 1982 and took over as CEO in 1997.

Mike Crowley
Oakland A’s president left a job at his family’s paint company to get his MBA from Duke and came away with a jones for the sports biz. He landed with the team thanks to a chance conversation with owner Steve Schott at a social function and, after a year as CFO, took over the reins.

Tom Lewand
Detroit Lions COO worked part time for the team while completing a joint JD/MBA at the University of Michigan. He started out negotiating player contracts and landed his current job last year.

Joe Ellis
Denver Broncos ranking business-side executive was the team’s director of marketing when he left for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, which led to a stadium development job at the league office. He returned for the top job in Denver in 1998.

Ted Phillips
President and CEO of the Chicago Bears got his Kellogg MBA while working as the team’s director of finance. He finished in 1989 and was named to the top job in 1999.

Andy Wasynczuk
Patriots COO already had a master’s in electrical engineering when he headed for Harvard B-school, where he got his MBA in 1983. He was working for a Boston consulting firm when he found his way to the sports industry as COO of Foxboro Stadium, which led him to the Pats.

Bernie Mullin
Atlanta Hawks CEO got his MBA from Kansas University and kept going, landing a Ph.D. in business. He taught in the sports management program at UMass until 1986, when he left to take over the business operations of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Mullin worked in the NBA office for almost four years before accepting the top job with the Hawks in March.

Wally Walker
Seattle Sonics CEO headed for a Stanford MBA after six seasons in the league as a player. He worked for Goldman Sachs for seven years, then started his own money management company in 1994. Walker gave that up after less than a year when he got the chance to return to basketball as Sonics GM. He was named president and landed a stake in the team in 2001.

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