Joe Branch, MBA ‘04, received the ‘Outstanding Achievement in Career’ award at the 2016 Association of Rice University Black Alumni Blueprint for Excellence Gala
. A part-time lecturer in Rice University’s Department of Sport Management, Branch teaches SMGT 460 (Business Analysis in Sport). He received his MBA in marketing and entrepreneurship from the Jones Graduate School of Business.
Branch is currently the managing director of basketball at Roc Nation Sports. Prior to his current role, he was a principal at Landmark Sports Agency and held basketball operations and marketing positions at Nike and the National Basketball Association.
In addition to his work with Roc Nation, Branch is a founding partner of UWANTGAME Ventures
and its student-athlete mentor program in New York. In Brooklyn, he also taught at Long Island University as an associate professor in sport sciences. He wants to carry over both his community work with UWANTGAME and his teaching experience to Houston, and Rice seemed like the perfect fit for the latter.
“Rice is home for me,” Branch explained. “I’m from Houston; my mom has been there for over 30 years. I think I want to do more of the things I’ve done in New York in my hometown of Houston, and there’s no better place to do it than the place that raised me at Rice.”
And Branch certainly grew up on campus. His mother worked in Rice’s Office of the Registrar for more than 30 years, and his brother took advantage of camps at the university. Branch himself was a ballboy for the basketball and football programs, took summer enrichment programs on campus, and was the director of basketball operations for the men’s basketball program. During his time earning his MBA, he was also president of the Black Graduate School Association.
All of this history with Rice made Branch’s recent award even more special.
“I know many great people that have come through 6100 Main Street,” Branch said. “I don’t know why they picked me (for the award), but I feel very blessed...There’s probably not a better award that is more meaningful to me because of just the family focus of Rice. I’ve cut my teeth at Rice.”
Just as Rice shaped him, Branch hopes to transform his students with hands-on experience in the sport industry. For example, they are writing to the NBA commissioner proposing a rule to increase diversity in hiring practices. Some of their other projects this semester include writing to Phil Knight about his book Shoe Dog, performing a social responsibility project for high school students interested in sport management, and executing a ticket sales simulation.
“No one day is the same, because no one day of the work world is the same, so that’s kind of how I teach my students in my class,” Branch said. “I want my students to start thinking about their brand and how they want to leave a legacy on Rice, on the world of sports, and as a whole...My job is to help them discover their passions and achieve their goals in the field of sport management.”
SMGT 460 is a course that falls within the Rice University Department of Sport Management’s concentration in sport leadership. The department also offers concentrations in sport law and sport analytics. To learn more about the Department of Sport Management, click here
Molly Mohr is an alumna of Rice University who double majored in sport management and English and minored in business.