SBJ/June 18-24, 2012/Colleges

Ex-Sacramento Kings exec takes role in UCF program

Former Sacramento Kings President John Thomas has joined the University of Central Florida DeVos Sport Business Management Program as director of external affairs and partner relationships.

In addition, the UCF program has named former WNBA President Donna Orender, former NCAA President Judy Sweet and current UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero as senior advisers.

The reorganization comes after former faculty member Bill Sutton left the Orlando campus this spring to run the sports management graduate program at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

“We reorganized with the emphasis on the business side,” said Richard Lapchick, chairman of the DeVos program at UCF.

“We use the power of sports to effect social change, but we also want to create a balance between sports and the business aspects.”

Thomas joined UCF in late May after working as president of the Kings for a decade before resigning in April 2010. He also has worked for the Houston Rockets.

The Orlando Magic and NASCAR are sponsors of the UCF program.

“Knowing the program made it a very natural step for me,” Thomas said. “There is a tremendous amount of talent here, and I will be sharing my experiences and helping [students] with real-world experiences.”

Thomas will move to Orlando and will begin to lecture in classes immediately.

Orender, Sweet and Guerrero will begin their advisory roles this fall, with the executives expected to spend a few days each year at the school while also serving as consultants to the program.

“We wanted to bring people with strong business skills to help the students, but also what has distinguished our program has been the emphasis on the social issues in sports, and these people are pioneers,” Lapchick said.

The school accepts about 30 students annually and it is a two-year graduate program.

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