Class designed by Rice and the Houston Texans enjoys a successful first semester

Class designed by Rice and the Houston Texans enjoys a successful first semester

During the Fall 2019 semester, the Rice University Department of Sport Management partnered with the Houston Texans and launched the inaugural “Pro Sports: Management” course. The curriculum enabled Rice students to learn the ins and outs of sport business industry while simultaneously aiding Texans executives in handling real-time business challenges.

The course, which was held each week at NRG Stadium, was taught and designed by Diane Crossey, a Professor in the Practice who previously worked in the Texans front office before joining Rice as a faculty member in 2015.

“Having worked for the Texans for 13 years, I was familiar with the various areas and the executives overseeing those departments,” Crossey said. “I met with each executive individually to design case studies and projects that would not only help the students learn but also provide valuable information for the Texans organization.”

Each week, students were familiarized with a specific department of the Texans’ front office (football operations, ticket sales, legal, marketing, etc.). Crossey and the vice-presidents or directors of those departments then presented real-life issues that the team faced. Students were then responsible for researching and addressing the problems by way of presentations and projects. The recommendations that the students created were then used by the front office for the benefit the organization.

“We met with a different executive every week and learned about their function with the Texans,” Chrystal Hughes ’22 said. “We were assigned a specific project for each executive. We met with the Senior Vice President of Marketing and one of the projects she gave us was to find ways to connect with out-of-state Texans fans, so they feel connected to the team. We were helping solve problems that they face in their jobs.”

Fall 2019 Texans class

In spite of the anxiety and potential stressors involved in consulting with a team worth $3.1 billion, students were fully prepared and did not back down from the challenge. Several students commented on how their college experience prepared them for the opportunity.

“Rice’s Sport Management curriculum provided me with the skills to contribute positively in class and ease the stress of presentations,” said Johan Fotso ’21. “One week we performed analytical research on the hometowns of every active NFL player. “We were looking to find correlations of positional strengths to regions, all the way down to individual counties that produce overwhelming amounts of NFL talent.”

Kristian Stengel ’21, responded similarly, showing how his internship experience while at Rice has helped him and his fellow classmates pave the way to a successful semester.

“Personally, I felt prepared and very confident in our class as a whole,” Stengel said. “Although very few of us have worked with an NFL franchise, I know almost all of us have had high profile internships in sports across nearly all properties, including MLB, UFC, ESPN, and NCAA. I was excited to see us in action, learning from and working with the best of the best in the Houston Texans front office.”

Stengel noted that he and his peers made an impact with their social media suggestions.

“We did a deep dive into various emerging social media platforms including Tik Tok,” Stengel said. “The Texans staff found our suggestions regarding the platform helpful and utilized our recommendations.”

“Our students did an excellent job in preparing solutions and presenting them.” Crossey said. “Team executives often commented about their level of research and professionalism.”

As a result, the course will be offered again during the Fall 2020 semester.

Jacob Grams, a junior from Houston, Texas, is double-majoring in Sport Management and Kinesiology.

Elijah Garcia, a senior from San Antonio, Texas, is majoring in Sport Management and Minoring in Business.