Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning, USF enter into partnership to launch MBA in sports and entertainment management

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning
On Thursday, even prior to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 7:30 start against the San Jose Sharks, several members of the Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment organization were already celebrating a victory.

This win in particular, however, occurred off the ice.Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft and Dr. William Sutton, also of USF, addressed the media during a mid-afternoon press conference to announce a new and exciting joint partnership. Per the agreement, the two institutions will team up to provide students with the opportunity to work with and learn from the nation’s top faculty and sports industry leaders, thanks to a new graduate program in sports and entertainment management.

Beginning in August, USF will offer the two-year degree program, which emphasizes the business fundamentals of the sports and entertainment industry and provides graduate students with paid internships to help them experience how those lessons play out in the real world.

“USF is a big and an important part of this community, so it was a real pleasure to join forces with them and dream up what could be,” Vinik said. “Our goal nearly two years ago was to make everything about the Lightning world-class. It’s great to see that there is a university in town that has those same aspirations.”

According to Vinik, the Lightning Foundation will provide some financial backing for the program, as well as host an annual golf outing and continue to devote hours of volunteer service throughout the community, all in conjunction with USF.

Following Vinik’s opening address at the podium, Genshaft also stated her intention to help prepare the next generation of sports and entertainment industry professionals.

“USF brings the brightest minds of our business school, our reputation as a top-tier global research university, and our unwavering commitment to student success to this partnership,” Genshaft said. “Our metropolitan location is rich with sports and family entertainment businesses and our region has been the host to the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, the World Series, and NCAA Tournaments, including this year’s “Frozen Four” NCAA men’s hockey championships to be held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in April. Our partnerships will help prepare students for careers in sports and entertainment management all over the world.”

Dr. William A. Sutton, formerly of the DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program at the University of Central Florida, will direct the MBA in Sport and Entertainment Management at USF.

Per program requirements, Sutton said Degree seekers will complete foundational MBA courses in management, finance, marketing, information systems, and accounting as well as elective courses that focus on the sport and entertainment industry. Students will also complete two internships as a part of the program, working in key business functions with the Tampa Bay Lightning, partner firms, or other sports and entertainment businesses in the Bay Area.

“A business is only as good as the company it keeps, and the organizations we choose to partner with make a bold statement about our business values,” Vinik added. “We’re excited for this new opportunity to partner with USF and offer students internships and practical experience in sports and entertainment management in the ‘living laboratory’ of Tampa Bay. Students will benefit from exceptional learning opportunities, and ultimately, the whole community will benefit from two well-respected organizations partnering to do something extraordinary.”

View More