20 Questions with Ayo Taylor-Dixon
Oct. 22, 2010
1.) Name: Ayo Taylor-Dixon
2.) Current Position and Employer: Assistant Athletics Director of Marketing & Revenue Development at the University of South Florida
3.) Number of years in current position? Four years, but this is my fifth football season
4.) Why/when did you decide to pursue a career in college athletics? I decided in the middle of my junior year in college when I knew I didn't want to sit in front of a computer anymore for hours and hours trying to figure out my syntax errors in my computer programming. I wanted to still be around sports so I chose to get a degree in marketing and pursue a sports career.
5.) What was your path to working in collegiate marketing? I went to talk to my academic advisor, Darren Fort, in the spring of 2001, and he talked to me about the types of positions I could possibly get and about the jobs listed on NCAA and NACDA websites. I then proceeded to apply for 50 plus jobs while I was completing my fifth year as a track and field student-athlete at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. I knew the number of jobs I had applied for because I kept all the rejection letters that I received as motivation. Later during that spring I went back to Darren and said I wanted to finish graduate school at SFA. I had just started my first nine hours, but I needed him to give me a job. A few weeks later he came back to me with a plan to work for him by monitoring study hall and doing some academic advising, but also working for his brother, Gregg Fort, and John Branch in the external affairs department.
6.) Who do you consider to be your role model in this industry? Steve McCarty, Craig Littlepage, and Bill McGillis
7.) What are your career aspirations? To be an athletics director
8.) How important do you feel your involvement is with NACMA in terms of continuing to grow your career? Probably bigger than I realize but I would say on scale of 1-10 it would be a 10.
9.) What is your favorite memory from your job, or project you are most proud of? That would be September 28, 2007 when we played West Virginia in football at home and they were ranked number 5. We had a massive campout on campus the Sunday night prior to that game. The Mayor of Tampa proclaimed Friday, September 28 as "Green and Gold Day" and one of the tallest buildings downtown was illuminated green and gold. We would go on to upset the Mountaineers that night and sell out our first football game in the school's history. The atmosphere that night was electric!
10.) Were you ever involved in a marketing "blunder"? If so, please explain. That would be when I was at the University of Evansville and I did a youth basketball tournament as a group ticket sale. I thought I would only have about 10 or 12 teams but to my surprise we ended up with 44 youth basketball teams that I guaranteed two basketball games each. I planned to run the entire tournament with our staff from scoreboard, to clock, to even being the referees which ended up being a huge man power disaster. We had to summon all hands on deck and call in some real basketball officials to get us through the weekend but I can still remember the looks I got from our staff. At one point I thought I might need to find a new job, but we found a way to get through it and I didn't bring up any bright ideas like that for awhile.
11.) Who has been your favorite coach to work with? (either present or past job) That would have to be my former track coach at SFA, Phil Olson, who asked me to redshirt my senior year and comeback for a fifth year and be the team captain. It was his first year as our head coach and he was my third head coach in four years, but I knew he was the guy to lead us and someone I could learn from. In 11 years so far as head coach he has won "coach of the year" six times and has won 15 or 16 conference titles between cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field We still talk and exchange e-mails on a regular basis.
12.) What do you feel is the most important quality for those early in the profession to posses? The ability to manage multiple tasks, to process a large volume of information quickly, to be creative, and to have a strong desire to be successful.
13.) What is the best advice anyone has ever given you? Probably that you are always "on" when you work in college athletics
14.) What advice would you give to those who are looking to venture into the field of collegiate athletics marketing? Stay persistent, hungry and don't limit yourself to a certain type of institution or region until you have gained enough experience. You have to be willing to go anytime and to anywhere to get your start.
15.) In your opinion, where is collegiate athletics marketing headed in the future? If I knew I would play Powerball and pick the winning lottery numbers but I think more and more fragmentation of the marketing mix, a greater focus on adding value to season tickets and the game experience, budgetary support, finding a way to monetize social/new media and the future of the economy are all keys in my eyes.
16.) Who are the people who have influenced you the most? I would have to say my parents hands down and especially my dad who still to this day gets up at 3:30 am to get ready to go to work.
17.) How would you describe your typical work week? Not sure I would describe anything in this business as being typical but I would say one with many ups and downs, while getting ready for the next season of an upcoming sport, while getting ready for a game or event on the weekend and always planning in some way for next year. All the while, seeing if there is a way to increase value and revenue.
18.) How do you maintain balance between your professional and personal life? I am not sure if I have figured this one out yet but I am working on it as is everyone else trying to find the right balance.
19.) What is your favorite NACMA memory? Probably my first convention when I didn't know anybody but the people I came with and how quickly I met others who I am still friends with today.
20.) What are you most looking forward to at the upcoming NACMA Convention in Orlando? It's always like a big family reunion where you get to see people who you communicate with on a regular basis, get to meet others that you have either just talked with or exchanged emails with and others who you want to network with and exchange ideas with. It's always a great experience!