UofSC instructor inspires the next generation of leaders in sports – UofSC News & Events

Susan O'Malley

Susan O’Malley, initially girl to operate an NBA group, shares her insight with HRSM pupils

Susan O’Malley knows a thing about receiving to the prime of her job, getting
the first female to run a qualified sports franchise when she took about as president
of the NBA crew in Washington, D.C., in 1991 at age 29.

In the several years considering that, she’s read a lot of folks inform her she broke the glass ceiling
— that points ought to have gotten much easier for girls doing work at high levels in sports.

Her reaction is crystal clear: No. It is still hard.

She shares a tale about conversing with a student who recently completed an internship
with a Nationwide Hockey League staff. When the intern questioned her boss what it was like
for ladies working in the business, the supervisor told her, “I nonetheless go house and
cry sometimes.”

“And I was considering, ‘Oh my gosh, I am 30 yrs eliminated from that first day.’ So that
is the issue I try to tell ladies: It’s even now not quick.”

Now a senior teacher of activity and entertainment management in the School of Hospitality,
Retail and Activity Administration, O’Malley has brought her know-how, insight and enthusiasm
to the College of South Carolina, concentrating on giving learners — men and women —
a flavor of the rapidly-paced discipline of sports and celebration management.


A enthusiasm for sporting activities

Training in a university classroom in South Carolina was not on O’Malley’s first
to-do record. But working a sports franchise was often on her thoughts.

O’Malley grew up in Maryland, the center child in a spouse and children of five. She constantly cherished
sporting activities — and competing. She remembers a college assignment when she was 13, expressing
she wanted to expand up to run a professional sports activities franchise. Whilst the teacher complemented
her composition, she also commented that it was an “unrealistic goal.”

She need to have identified not to underestimate O’Malley.

O’Malley went on to intern with Washington’s NBA and NHL groups whilst she was a scholar
at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. She labored briefly for an
marketing agency immediately after college, but at age 25 received a work as director of marketing
for the Washington Bullets, now the Washington Wizards. A couple a long time afterwards, she was
running the exhibit as president of Washington Sporting activities and Enjoyment. She earned a
legislation diploma from Georgetown College and was a single of the initially women in a prime entrance-workplace
situation in key league athletics. She also ran the Verizon Centre, now known as the Cash
A person Arena, the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and Ticketmaster Washington-Baltimore.

And she did it perfectly. Under O’Malley’s management, the Wizards experienced the most significant ticket
earnings raise in the heritage of the NBA. That similar yr, the club attained its
maximum year ticket renewal amount. By the 2005-2006 year, the Wizards captivated
more than 17,000 enthusiasts per sport, experienced 14 sellouts and the crew made its 2nd straight
journey to the playoffs.

Educating is the finest services work left, in my intellect, due to the fact you have an prospect
to make a variance in the upcoming era.

Susan O’Malley

She inevitably retired and left the Washington, D.C., space for Sullivans Island on
the South Carolina coastline in close proximity to Charleston.

Which is when Tom Regan and Matt Brown from the university’s Section of Sport and
Entertainment Administration came calling, recruiting her to the classroom, figuring out the
impression she could have on students.

She wasn’t certain. She experienced no strategy if she needed to teach, and Sullivans Island is a
two-hour travel from Columbia. But she was intrigued.

“They had a excellent vision for attempting to get the college students to realize exercise and
principle,” she states. She accepted the position and joined the faculty in 2016. She laughs
now, expressing some of her colleagues afterwards informed her they didn’t feel she’d last a yr.

“But I liked it. Instructing is the greatest services task left, in my brain, due to the fact you
have an possibility to make a difference in the next era. I actually imagine
that. And I also feel that men and women can have an enormous effect on someone’s self-truly worth.
It truly is that old expression that men and women don’t forget how you treat them for good,” she says.
“And I don’t forget the people today alongside the way that assisted me and made me feel better and
those people that made me truly feel shamed. And, so, I think that is an crucial function.”


Mentoring the subsequent era

At South Carolina, she has produced it a position to mentor pupils — particularly women
— considering that she is aware that athletics work opportunities nonetheless are likely to go to male candidates. She termed
on her contacts with Monumental Sports and Entertainment to protected 4 certain
paid out internships for female learners majoring in sport and enjoyment administration,
as a way to the two help college students and create foreseeable future sector leaders.

She shares with female learners a line she stole from singer and actress Reba McEntire
that to be productive they require to go into each and every assembly with a wishbone, a backbone
and a amusing bone.

“I explain to ladies that you have to have those people a few factors. And you are heading to have to
operate tougher than gentlemen do. And, you know, you really do have to sort of look at your feelings
at the door. My outdated boss, Abe Pollin (who promoted her to president of his NBA staff)
was an remarkable person, but if I obtained passionate or psychological about one thing, he’d put
his hand up and he’d say, ‘Keep your eye on the ball.’ ”

O’Malley has been privileged to have her have group of ladies mentors, which includes the
late Katharine Graham, the publisher of The Washington Article.

“When I received the work (as president of the Washington Bullets), I bought a letter from
her. A little handwritten be aware was delivered to me and it explained, ‘Would you be intrigued
in obtaining breakfast with Katharine Graham?’ ”

O’Malley jumped at the opportunity. She remembers Graham telling her it would be a rough
road for a girl in a male-dominated field, but she also remembers the publishing icon’s
give to be readily available to communicate anytime O’Malley needed her. She did call on Graham
around the decades, while she admits she was generally a tiny intimidated. “For me,
it was like speaking to royalty.”

Some of her college students may come to feel the same way with O’Malley, who just this week  was
named by the Sporting activities Business enterprise Journal as 1 of 6 members of the class of 2022 Champions: Pioneers and Innovators in Sports Business. But she goes out of her way to motivate college students to quit by her business office to chat —
which includes retaining the candy bowl on her desk total and bringing her golden retriever
dog to the workplace for college students to meet.

“When I initial received right here, I appeared for every person who received the teacher of the 12 months award
and I questioned them, ‘Could I sit in on your class? Because you are the finest and I want
to discover from you.’ And afterward I’d check with them, ‘What do you feel your solution sauce
is?’ And two of them claimed the specific identical factor, ‘The college students have to feel you treatment
about them.’ And I assumed, Alright, I can do that. Because I do. I actually do care about
the learners.” 

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