CSU celebrates Denver Broncos Institute with students
Darren O’Donnell didn’t mince words Tuesday evening when addressing a group of students at a launch event for the Denver Broncos Sports Management Institute at Colorado State University.
“The world belongs to the hustler,” he said. “Hustle matters. It’s about going the extra mile.”
O’Donnell, a CSU alum now serving as vice president for business development for the Broncos, joined Mac Freeman, senior vice president for professional development, during the event to congratulate the first group of students in the program and encourage prospective students to apply to the fledgling program.
The Denver Broncos Institute – the first program of its kind matching a university with an NFL franchise – is part of CSU’s ever-expanding exclusive partnership with the Broncos, one of the world’s premier sports franchises. Four colleges – Business, Agriculture, Health and Human Sciences and Liberal Arts – offer classes on the academic side of the program.
Students in the program can earn a minor in sports management in the Department of Management in the College of Business. They have the opportunity for hands-on learning in marketing, video production, public relations, hospitality management, event and conference planning, facilities construction and management, and turf management.
Most of the inaugural class of 42 was on hand for the event, plus another 50 students eager to find out more about the program. O’Donnell and Freeman answered questions for nearly an hour, talking about jobs in the sports industry and how to get them.
“This is the right time to put together a program like this, given the growth of sports in this country,” Freeman said. “It’s an industry that has job potential in a lot of different areas. That’s why this program makes sense – it allows CSU students to differentiate themselves in a highly competitive industry.”
Freeman talked about the evolution of sports in recent years, including the emphasis on electronic and social media. Fans want more from their game-day experience, and the Broncos are making significant investments to make sure going to the games is more appealing than sitting at home and watching on TV.
He also talked about what type of students the Broncos and CSU are looking for to participate in the program.
“You’re not qualified if you’re just a fan of the Denver Broncos,” Freeman said. “You’re not qualified if all you want to do is fold towels and be near the team. We’re looking for people with ideas. That’s what the institute will do: help us identify the people with ideas that can help grow our business.”
The event was attended by CSU President Tony Frank and Provost Rick Miranda, along with several members of Frank’s cabinet and Department of Athletics leadership. The message, however, was all about students.
CSU, Broncos share values
“People have asked us, ‘Why CSU?’ ” Freeman said. “When you think about it, our organizations are uniquely connected. In my time with the Denver Broncos, I’ve run into literally dozens of people in our offices with CSU connections, from our coaching staff and through every department.
“The Broncos organization is a special place with special people, and authenticity runs through everything we do. It’s very important that our DNA matches with the people we partner with, and CSU is the right partner in this project.
“I think we’re going to build something very special here.”