Students from across Illinois will converge on Normal later this month for a unique sport business experience hosted by the Illinois State University sport management program.

The 6th annual ISU Sport Management Symposium is set to once again connect industry professionals with students interested in sport business for a day full of discussion and exploration. This year’s event will be held at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Uptown Normal on Friday, February 26, 2016, and will feature topics ranging from marketing and sponsorship to development and ticket sales to communications and digital media.

“The event was designed as a way for our program to bring together students from the region for a day of professional development and networking,” said Clint Warren, assistant professor of sport management and event faculty advisor. “To work in sport, it is critical to develop a professional perspective on the industry and then to begin cultivating relationships to supplement the in-class experiences each student has. The symposium is a great place to make those types of connections.”

Last year’s edition drew over 200 faculty members and students for the one-day conference. Warren hopes students interested in sport business are able to gain new perspectives on working in the field as much more than just being sport fanatics.

“I think our panelists are all unanimous in their emphasis on volunteering and working hard in and out of the classroom,” Warren said. “Another important component of the symposium for us is that it is completely organized and executed by a team of ISU sport management students. From that perspective, it is really a learning lab for our program.”

Jerrod Campbell, sport management graduate student and one of the event organizers, said he has experienced the event as an attendee as well as a planner and appreciates the test of networking and time management.

“It was eye opening to witness the amount of effort and assistance that each professional offered,” he said. “Even if they could not attend, they were willing to connect me with someone that might be interested in being a part of the event this year. The sport industry is always changing, and you have to be flexible and respectful of everyone’s schedule. I never thought that one connection within an organization would quickly lead me to two, three, or four more professionals.”

Campbell enjoys how every year the symposium brings fresh faces and new perspectives.

“A lot of new faces are working behind the scenes, and a lot of new professionals were contacted to be a part of the event,” he added. “Cultivating relationships with the panelists does not end once the event concludes either. You never know who might be a future colleague or will help the event in the future.”

Both Warren and Campbell are excited about the variety of panelists and topics scheduled this year. In recent symposiums, the format had been focused on a presentation-question-answer style; this time, the panels are laid out to promote more back and forth discussion to give attendees a better feel for the industry and the people working in it.

“I think it will be more beneficial for not only audience members to generate their own ideas and opinions but also for the panelists to bounce ideas off of one another,” Campbell says.

You can keep track of updates on panelists, find a schedule of events, and learn more about registering by following the Symposium Twitter account (@ISUSymp). Registration is $45 per individual attendee and must be completed by February 19.

Zach Dietmeier can be reached at