Texas Tech University

Sport Management Students Finish Runner Up at College Sport Research Conference

Sarah Connell

June 3, 2016

Team’s presentation was a solution to student-athlete compensation situation.

A team of graduate students in the Sport Management Program at Texas Tech University placed second at the 2016 College Sport Research Institute Conference. The national conference was held in late April in Columbia, South Carolina.


The team of Zach Chavez, Angelica Garcia, Hannah Limmer and Kris Lane Plunkett, along with faculty members Calvin Nite and Adam Cohen in the Department of Kinesiology and Sport Management was one of seven teams that competed and presented on the issue of collegiate student athlete compensation. The University of New Mexico placed first at the competition.

Each year, teams from throughout the United States attend the conference and compete in graduate-level student case competitions. Students present on current issues in college sports to a panel of judges consisting of sport professionals, experts, and professors.

Texas Tech proposed to provide athletic scholarships that are more accessible and more stable. Having the scholarships offered on a multi-year basis will allow more of a guarantee than before. Also, it will prevent any scholarship loss in the event of a devastating injury and the inability to perform the rest of the season. The scholarships will be tethered to health insurance allowing athletes' coverage until they turn 26.

“We want the scholarships to help stabilize the athletes' financial situations rather than them being business transactions between players and their coaches, like they are commonly treated in the NCAA today.” said Limmer


The team also discussed being an athlete requires a large amount of dedication, leaving sparse time for other activities such as finding a job. The solution will allow athletes to be endorsed by companies who want athletes to represent their brand. This could aide in giving Division I athletes more access to branding their own image and showcasing their previous successes.

Texas Tech has recognized the Olympic Free Market Model and the relationship it had to the NCAA's amateur label they give to the student athletes. This demonstrates the free market would allow athletes to eventually become entrepreneurs. At the moment, there is a bylaw preventing college athletes from operating their own business. Recognizing this model will allow athletes to sell jerseys, autographs and pictures while keeping the money rather than having all funds dispensed to the NCAA.

“We believe the greatest part about our solution was the simplicity of it, and how easy it would be to actually implement within the NCAA in the near future,” Limmer said.

The panel of judges based scores on quality of the case content, presentation delivery, and ability to respond to proposed questions.

Besides the competition, the conference hosted several discussions and oral presentations as well as Joe Nocera as the keynote speaker. Nocera is a sport business columnist for The New York Times as well as an author and writer for multiple publications. Additionally, participants spoke to other authors and journalists who wrote on the topic of the research. Limmer said it was amazing to hear their opinions on the various subjects in person in their own voices.

Plunkett, a team member, spoke on how the conference showed the importance of this line of work. He said the experience allowed the team to see that once in the field of work they could find solutions to problems and ways to make a difference in the industry.

By allowing “an opportunity to network with people whom we might not have had a chance to meet otherwise,” Plunkett said they created a place that was, “rich with information of our field.”

Though Texas Tech has competed well at this conference before, they had never placed until this year.

“This group of students upheld the legacy of previous students by working very hard and competing well,” Nite said.

Having gone before as a graduate student, Nite knew what this convention allows the students to experience. He knew participating would create exposure on the national level for Texas Tech's Kinesiology and Sport Management department.

The team was self-selected after mentioning the student case completion. He said that they lost only by a split decision and the team was very close to winning.

The team spoke highly about how each individual represented Texas Tech University along with the sport management program and are planning to compete again next year.