Becca Koval '15 is Hired by NCAA Final Four

Becca Koval '15 is Hired by NCAA Final Four

Rice University Sport Management alumna Rebecca Koval ’15 accepted a position as Project Coordinator for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four Local Organizing Committee in Houston, Texas.

After a successful 2011 Final Four, the NCAA’s marquee basketball event returns to NRG Stadium five years later. Koval worked for the Final Four Organizing Committee during the 2015 spring semester and received a full-time offer to return. Becca’s position as Project Coordinator involves coordinating the marketing and public relations efforts for the Final Four Fan Fest, Music Festival, Special Friday, Dribble event, Youth Clinics and other affiliated events. She is also in charge of social media campaigns and logistics associated with promotional items. Koval also works with Hispanic outreach programs, hospitality, and other grassroots events.

“What I do is a lot of different marketing and promotions through different activations and events throughout the city of Houston,” Koval said. “I mainly promote the community events that we are going to have because not many people know that there are all these great events surrounding the actual basketball games, such as FanFest, Music Fest, Final Four Friday, and among many others.”

Becca Koval '15

Koval attributes her success at the position to her time at Rice. She gained valuable academic and work experience in the industry through classes and internships that are integrated in the sport management curriculum. She was a public relations and events intern for Select Sports Group, a Houston based athlete representation and management firm. Later she served as event operations intern for BBVA Compass Stadium, home to the Houston Dynamo (MLS) and Houston Dash (NWSL). Kova also interned for IMG, where she was in charge of marketing and sponsorship activation. Furthermore, classes such as Sport Marketing, Public Relations, Practicum and Event Management enhanced her skillset and gave her an edge in the practical world; the kind of edge the Sport Management department relentlessly aims to instill in every one of its students.

“My internships definitely helped show me what I was interested in and not interested in and what I wanted to pursue upon graduating,” Koval said. “I would not have gotten this job if it weren’t for the research I did with the Final Four last spring. I was able to meet the president and VP of the organizing committee, which really opened the door for me. It’s little things like that and the extra things that the Sports Management program does for its students that can really make the difference.”

The Rice Sport Management–NCAA relationship dates back to 2011, when Department Chair Clark Haptonstall and Professor in Practice Tom Stallings proactively approached the 2011 Organizing Committee and established a partnership to help students gain industry experience. This time around, the NCAA knocked on the department’s door to re-establish their partnership. The department will provide more than 50 of its students to work during the event, and Koval is excited to be able to share her workplace with other Rice students.

“Receiving a call from the NCAA asking for our students was a great feeling,” said Haptonstall. ”It means companies, organizations, and entities in the sports industry hold our students in high regard, and I am very happy we are able to offer them experiences like this one. I’m glad that what we teach in them in the classroom translates to success outside of it.”

The Final Four events will be held from Thursday, March 31 – Monday, April 4.

Enrique Walsh, a junior from San Salvador, El Salvador, is majoring in Economics and Sport Management. Griffin Lee, a junior from Birmingham, Alabama, is majoring in Sport Management and Kinesiology.