Reflecting on 10 Years of SMBA with Program Director Scott Minto

The Sports MBA Class of 2015 – the 10th in program history – is underway. The group of 30 has completed orientation, a weekend of work at the Farmers Insurance Open, and the first two weeks of class.

Current Program Director Scott Minto was part of the inaugural Sports MBA class. Following a stint with the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission, Minto returned seven years ago to serve as Program Director. He recently reflected on his involvement with the program – both as student and director – over the past ten years.

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After graduating from Georgetown what convinced you to join a brand new Sports MBA program?

When youwant to study a specific industry you need to be around that industry. You need to be where there are opportunities to get involved and not just go study. For me one of the major factors I placed above that alumni network was that chance to get sports experience, which I was lacking. … A lot of my classmates and I were enticed by the program being in its first year rather than scared off by it. We got to decide what our culture was going to be; we got to decide as the first alumni how we were going to treat it. I think you see that now 10 years in and how our alumni act. We were the standard bearers to say, “This is what we’re going to be.”

What do you remember your from time as a student in the program? Coming from Washington D.C., what surprised you about San Diego?

When I came out here it was different to see how people dressed in San Diego – graduate and undergrad students. There’s a difference in culture. … It was a shock to have this laid back culture – which was something to embrace while you were here, but we took (our work) really seriously. My classmates and I said we’re here to learn were going to get everything we could out of this. … We had an outstanding class. We had people who graduated from Stanford, Cal (UC-Berkeley), Notre dame – and we had a lot of people that were local to San Diego. We came together and meshed pretty well for being an expansion franchise.

While at the DC Sports Commission, what was your connection with the program? Did you ever expect to return and eventually serve as its director?

No, never. I think people would’ve been surprised if I had said I want to be the program director. It wasn’t anywhere near my radar. … When I went back I was doing info sessions; I was conducting interviews – just because I wanted to stay active. …

I had conservation with Dr Singh, who is now interim dean of the college of business, but at the time he was faculty member of the year. I discussed the possibility with him and he was instrumental in me making that decision, because he is so dedicated to quality and someone that I trust will make the right decisions when it comes to the students.

What did you hope to accomplish when you accepted the position?

This program was really at a crossroads. For the first time it was going to be run by a dedicated person and treated like a serious academic program. … I didn’t want to come out here and just run a line item program and a way to make money for the school. I wanted to run the best possible program I could, and Dr. Singh was instrumental in convincing me that if I came out here we would become more international in focus and we would make a more rigorous curriculum. We’d be strict in our admission standards and we’d be able to set a standard in the classroom for a certain level of expectation.

What were other top priorities?

The dress code was one of the first things right away where we could stand out in a place that’s known for its casual dress code. The Dominican Republic trip was another. … About six months into the second class we were able to bring everyone down for our annual trip. We stressed the fact that sports is a difficult industry. It meant really ratcheting up the quality if we were going to expect to compete for jobs.

What are you most proud of about your time in the program?

I think our case comp is our crown jewel. We have some of the best business schools in the world come out here. We had some pretty humble beginnings with just USC, UCLA and SDSU. It’s grown to the point where we have top business schools from three continents, and we’re the reigning champs. To have our students come out distinguished, or even superior, to their peers from top 50 institutions – that’s an incredibly great achievement for this program. The quality of students we have is unmatched in the sports business space.

How would you divide your allegiances if Georgetown (your alma mater) and San Diego State ever faced off in the NCAA Tournament?

It’s happened twice where they’ve both been tournament eligible and for whatever reason, the committee is out to get me. They’ve put them in the same segment of the bracket twice. In Providence and we played a doubleheader and both of my teams lost, which was excruciating. Last year Florida Gulf Coast went ahead and beat one, and then the other. It’s great to have two teams to root for and I don’t know what I’d do if they ever played each other. It’s hard to go away from the alma mater, but you also have to consider who signs the checks and what coworkers I have to see on a daily basis. It’s a really difficult choice that I fortunately haven’t had to make just yet.

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