Better Know A Faculty: Dr. Vassilis Dalakas, Introduction to Sports Marketing

Throughout the remainder of the year, the Better Know A Faculty series will shed some extra light on the outstanding faculty of San Diego State’s Sports MBA program. These interviews and stories have been compiled throughout the last few years by various Sports MBA classes. This edition of Better Know A Faculty will feature Dr. Vassilis Dalakas, adjunct Sports Marketing professor from Cal State San Marcos written by Johnny Du, SMBA ’13.


Dr. Dalakas with this wife and two of his daughters during a 2010 visit to ESPN studios in Bristol, CT.

Everyone’s favorite boisterous, red/burgundy-colored shirt wearing, Oregon Ducks-loving Greek professor is the latest to receive the Better Know A Faculty treatment. Professor Vassilis Dalakas taught the foundation and main part of BA 655: Introduction to Sports Marketing in the Spring.

Dr. Dalakas moonlights as an adjunct professor in the SDSU Sports MBA program; his full-time appointment is up the road at Cal State San Marcos:

Once he migrated over to the U.S., Dr. Dalakas bounced all over the country before arriving in southern California. He received his bachelor’s at Hanover College, Master’s at Indiana University and then his Marketing Ph.D. at Phil Knight’s pet project, the University of Oregon. He began his teaching career at Berry College in Atlanta, found his way to Northern Kentucky and finally arrived at his present gig in San Marcos. Fortunately for us, he decided one school wasn’t enough and began teaching in our program last year.

Our sessions with Dr. Dalakas were held from March to May. The main goals were to cover key goals and practices (advertising, sponsorships, naming rights) of marketing, especially when it comes to targeting the sports fan or using sports as the vehicle. There is marketing THROUGH sports, and marketing OF sports. We also covered consumer behavior and fan affinity among different demographic segments, defining those market demographics and modern pricing strategies. Each session usually were accompanied by several examples of sports-related television advertisements (like the US Open backdrop in this one). Assignments included individual case studies and a group project working with Graham Siderius (SMBA ’07) at the Anaheim Ducks.

Below are his answers to our Five Questions. Thanks a lot, Dr. Dalakas, and all the best with the newborn!

1) When did you start teaching in the program? How did the opportunity come about?

I started teaching in 2011 to the SMBA ’12 cohort. One of my colleagues at Cal State San Marcos had collaborated with Professor Joe Belch (another Sports MBA faculty member) at SDSU and, given my background and interest in sports marketing, introduced us.

2) What do you enjoy most about teaching in the Sports MBA program?

The students. It is truly a joy teaching students who are so motivated and engaged. Class discussions are always stimulating and fun and time goes by without realizing it.

3) In your respective course, what are the main takeaway(s) you are hoping the cohort gets (or got, if the course has completed)?

In addition to learning the basic concepts about marketing and marketing strategy, I hope that students will start watching sports differently after the class. I wouldn’t be surprised if, as they were watching the Olympics this summer, the students were thinking, “Interesting how Subway is ambushing the Olympics with Apolo Ohno and Nastia Liukin in the ads and they are calling it the official training restaurant of athletes everywhere without using the word Olympics.” On my end, this means mission accomplished!

4) Someone walks up, says they have been offered admission into SMBA and asks you “Why should I enroll?” Your response is:

There are many great things about the program but if I had one word to describe it, it would be “Community.” The program is challenging and intensive but it is evident that students form a strong bond as a cohort that helps them go through the program and deal with any challenges. More importantly, the community extends also to the alumni who stay involved and are eager to help the current students.

5) Your (hopefully inspirational and uplifting) sports movie of choice is…? Because…?

That’s a tough one as I am a big fan of sports movies and I can’t narrow it down to just one. I think I can pick three, each from a different sport:

Remember the Titans – I love how in addition to the sports angle, it shows how sports can help bring a community together addressing broader important social issues (I love the scene where Campbell visits Bertier at the hospital after his accident and their interaction):

The Rookie – Again, in addition to the exciting aspects with the sports twist, I enjoy the other two “subplots,” the father-son relationship (Morris and his dad, Morris and his own son) and the teacher/coach-student relationship (I love the scene where each player walks by him saying “it’s your turn, coach”).

Hoosiers – Just a beautiful Cinderella story capturing everything that’s great about sports.

Of course, I have to also give an honorable mention to Jerry Maguire which is special from a personal standpoint being the movie I saw on my first date with my now-wife. Thankfully, we saw that one instead of The English Patient, the other possible choice, which I am guessing would have led to me falling asleep and probably no second date… [Editor’s Note: But it was a Best Picture winner!]


Originally post on the San Diego State SMBA Class of 2013 blog