NACMA 15 Questions with Eric Burkirk
Feb. 16, 2009
1.) Name: Eric Buskirk
2.) Current Position & Employer:
Associate Athletics Director - External Affairs: Louisiana Tech University
3.) # Years in current position: 2
4.) Why/when did you decide to pursue a career in college athletics?
During my time as a student at Ohio State, the athletics department was in a period of major advancement and I had the opportunity to meet Andy Geiger, the Athletics Director during that time. I guess you can say I "caught the fever" and set my goal to work towards being an Athletics Director.
5.) Who do you consider to be your role model in this industry?
Looking at the entire industry of collegiate athletics, there are so many quality individuals in this business to look up to, it's hard to choose just one. As far as a role model is concerned, our current Athletics Director/Head Football coach Derek Dooley is the true definition of a leader which in turn makes him a great role model. Early on in my career I worked for Larry Martin, with the Miami Heat, and many of my management skills were derived from his leadership style. I also had the chance to spend time with Gene Smith when I worked at UTSA while we hosted the NCAA Men's Basketball Regional. I admire the aggressive business approach that Gene takes, and I have been very impressed with all the advancements he has made at Ohio State. Others that I have come in contact with that I feel are true leaders in their profession are Bill Byrne, Ross Bjork, David Brown, Chris Plonsky, Brian Wickstrom, Kurt Esser, and Mario Moccia.
6.) What are your career aspirations?
My long term career aspirations have always been to be an Athletics Director. Some of my day to day goals are to always stay on top of new trends, approaches, and technology, as well as improving my leadership skills on a daily basis.
7.) How important do you feel your involvement is with NACMA in terms of continuing to grow your career?
NACMA has been a tremendous asset to my career. I have attended every NACDA/NACMA conference since I started working in collegiate athletics and I have learned new things each year. On top of the learning opportunities, NACMA has given me the opportunity to interact with the leaders within the marketing field. Our industry is so unique, that it is nice to be able to pick up the phone and call a peer and share our experiences.
8.) What is your favorite memory from your job, or project you are most proud of?
I have had the opportunity to lead the External Affairs departments of two programs that have been in a stage of major development and growth. At UTSA we developed the new logos for the program, designed its first advanced website, and created an aggressive fundraising and marketing focus. The growth at LA Tech has taken the advancements to an even higher level. Not only have we designed the schools' new logos, designed a new website, restructured fundraising, contracted Ticketmaster (Archtics), advanced corporate sponsorship sales, and partnered with Learfield Sports, but we have actually changed the complete culture of LA Tech Athletics.
9.) Were you ever involved in a marketing "blunder"? If so, please explain!
My nature is to be aggressive and innovative. When you are aggressive with your marketing efforts, their will be some things that do not work, but I would rather have a few things go wrong rather than not being aggressive enough.
10.) Who has been your favorite coach to work with? (either present or past job):
My favorite and most demanding coach that I have ever worked with is our current Head Football coach, Derek Dooley, who also happens to be our Athletics Director. Our golf coach at LA Tech, Jean Hall, has also been a pleasure to work with because he was formerly the Vice President for the University (retired), and has a tremendous about of knowledge to lend.
11.) What do you feel is the most important quality for those early in the profession to possess?
Passion and commitment! It seems like every month I run into at least one person that says that they would love to work in sports. It takes more than "want to"; you have to jump in with two feet.
12.) What advice would you give to those who are looking to venture into the field of collegiate athletics marketing?
To get started early in your career you have to develop a skill-set that makes you an asset to a department. The skill-set may be sales, graphic design, or developing creative promotions. The problem I often see with young people in marketing is a lack of specific skill-sets to get them started.
13.) In your opinion, where is collegiate athletics marketing headed in the future?
I have always felt that collegiate athletics marketing has been behind professional sports, but we are catching up. Of course with the economy today, there is naturally going to be a number of adjustments made. Most schools have started to use the new marketing technologies available, and we are learning how to use them more effectively. I think that schools will start to develop a more formalized account executive program as it relates to tickets sales. I also think that we will continue to advance in the use of customer relationship management systems (CRM's), more like the NBA uses. I believe that there could be a day that schools start to outsource ticket sales and marketing similarly to the way that we outsource corporate sponsorship sales with companies like Learfield Sports.
14.) What is the best advice anyone have ever given you?
This is not advice that someone gave me personally, but I really think this quote fits well here.
"Don't give up, don't ever give up" -Jim Valvano
15.) Who are the people who have influenced you the most?
I have been blessed to have some very close friends growing up and some very influential friends in my life that I lived with in college, but I would have to say that my mother, Julie, has been the most influential.