Eastern Michigan University marketing students get a special inside look at how a professional sports franchise is run

COB students savor annual trip to Cleveland to learn about operations of NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers

A group of EMU students and faculty visit with stand in front of a banner at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
From left to right: EMU faculty member Sam Fullerton, Cavs CEO Len Komoroski, faculty member Robert Twells and students Adrein Adams, and KaJohn Armstrong.

YPSILANTI – Fifty-eight Eastern Michigan University marketing students and faculty attended the 10th annual Cavs/EMU Marketing Symposium this past December in Cleveland, Ohio.

The event featured presentations by four Cleveland Cavaliers executives, a tour of the Quicken Loans Arena (home of the NBA’s Cavaliers franchise) and the opportunity to watch an NBA game between the Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors. This annual event provides exceptional learning experiences for students pursuing a sports-related career.      

Each year, the symposium is organized and led by College of Business marketing lecturer Robert Twells. The idea originated in 2009 through his friendship with former NBA all-star and current New York Knicks broadcaster Wally Szczerbiak, who was playing for the Cavaliers at the time.

Although the event is in Ohio, it has strong connections to the state of Michigan – Detroit native and Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert has owned the team since 2005. During his ownership, the Cavaliers have been highly successful, going to five NBA Finals and winning the NBA Championship in 2016.

“The symposium is incredibly valuable on several fronts – student learning, networking and institutional relationship building,” said Twells. Quicken Loans and its Family of Companies is one of the largest employers of EMU business graduates. 

Cleveland Cavaliers a special host for EMU students

After arriving at Quicken Loans Arena, known as The Q, students and faculty were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility by Derek Badt, Group Event Specialist; and Mark Mazzagatti, Manager of Franchise Partnership Development. The Q is currently undergoing a $185 million exterior and interior renovation that will be completed in October. The state-of-the-art arena will be hosting the 2022 NBA All-Star game.

Upon completion of the tour, the group was treated to nearly two hours of individual presentations by Len Komoroski, CEO; Mela Moatz, Senior Manager, Membership Development; Seth Roberts, Director of Organizational Group Sales & Cavs Youth Sports; and Jonathan Sumers, Senior Director, Digital Partnerships and Esports Operations. 

“The Cavs organization always provides an amazing, first-class experience for our students,” Twells said.

Komoroski, with more than 30 years of experience in pro sports and entertainment, was the keynote speaker. He emphasized the importance of internships.

“Get internships. Find out what your passion is, or find out what you don’t want to do,” he said, emphasizing the importance of pursuing your dreams. “Be relentless, the only one who is going to stop you is you!”

A useful and fun experience for students

Adrein Adams, a student in Twells’ Services Marketing class last semester, has attended two of the Cavs/EMU Marketing Symposiums.

“They’re awesome learning experiences and a highlight of the year,” he said. “Mr. Komoroski’s presentation is very inspiring.”

“The presenters gave great information and advice to students on how to use the college years to build yourself and prepare for the future,” added Natalia Escalante, a student in Twells’ Sports & Event Marketing class.    

Dr. Sam Fullerton, a College of Business marketing professor, has organized and led similar events with the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers for over 10 years.

Every semester, Twells and Fullerton work together to provide these unique experiential opportunities for their students. Since 2009, more than 2,500 EMU marketing students have attended their symposiums.

“In addition to learning from some of the most successful people in pro sports, these events are exceptional places for students to network,” Fullerton said.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It currently serves 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

February 13, 2019

Written by:
Orion White

Geoff Larcom