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Seattle University Joins Forces with Local Sports Teams to Tackle Diversity in Sports and Entertainment Industry

Sports and Entertainment MBA will focus on increasing diversity in leadership

SEATTLE – MARCH 4, 2021 — Seattle University’s (SU) Albers School of Business and Economics today announced the launch of its newest graduate program, an MBA in Sports and Entertainment Management (MBA SEM) with a focus on diversifying leadership in the industry.

In a ground-breaking move, seven Seattle sports and entertainment companies will partner with the university to advise on the curriculum and offer fellowships to students. Founding partners, the Seattle Kraken and Seattle Mariners, have joined forces with the Seattle Storm, Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Seahawks, Oak View Group and Climate Pledge Arena to provide fellowships for students and job opportunities upon completion of the program.

A commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is one of the hallmarks of MBA SEM, making it the first program of its kind to build on DEI as a core philosophy. It is an offering consistent with the Albers School’s 70+ year legacy of championing business as an agent of positive social change. The curriculum will focus on:

·       Venue management and operation.

·       Venue sustainability for sports organizations and music/entertainment tours.

·       Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and anti-racism in sports, entertainment in sports and venue management.

“We’ve designed a sports MBA with an authentic experiential immersion curriculum, where students benefit from real-world projects, and close contact with various levels of organizational leadership,” said MBA SEM program director Maylon Hanold. “We will equip our students with the leadership skills and business acumen sought after by employers and prepare them for the workplace by creating a highly diverse and inclusive community.”

In addition, there will be DEI professional development opportunities for faculty members and the creation of a new, BIPOC led advisory group including students, faculty, and team partners.  Consistent with its educational mission, the university is committed to promoting a diverse student body and will be awarding scholarships to address financial need, to break down stereotypes in the industry and to create access to this unique program.

“Our Seattle teams share the goal of addressing historic inequities and creating opportunities in sport and entertainment leadership,” said Fred Rivera, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Seattle Mariners. “This program aligns with the Mariners recently announced racial equity programs and initiatives.  We are excited about the opportunity to partner with the Kraken as well as Seattle University on this long-term program to make progress breaking down barriers for entry into the sports industry.”

“We know that BIPOC and female leadership is lacking in our industry and with this program we have an exceptional opportunity to address this and instigate change,” said Tod Leiweke, CEO of Seattle Kraken.  “It is unprecedented to see so many organizations come together around one cause and we look forward to welcoming the inaugural class and seeing this program grow into a model around the world.”

Applications are now being accepted until May 15, 2021 at Classes start at the end of June.

Additional Quotes:

Seattle University

‘The sport industry has a renewed call to action as it endeavors to increase diversity at all levels and in all segments,’ said Albers Dean Joseph Phillips. ‘Our program will make an important contribution to those efforts.’

 ‘This is the first multi-organizational approach in bringing meaningful sport involvement, experiences, and opportunities to a diverse audience,’ said Bill Sutton, board advisor to the new MBA and founding director of the University of South Florida’s Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program.

Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks Chief Financial Officer, Karen Spencer, is an Advisory Board Member for Seattle University’s Master of Sport Business Leadership (MSBL) program and the team is proud to support advancement opportunities to diversify sports leadership.

“The Seahawks are thrilled to come together with our fellow Seattle sports teams to support this ground-breaking program that will provide invaluable first-hand experience in sports business, with a foundation of diversity and inclusion ingrained throughout,” said Karen Wilkins-Mickey, Seahawks Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “Our organization is guided upon core values of respect, equality and inclusiveness on and off the field, so we look forward to mentoring these future leaders and providing meaningful opportunities for them as they advance their careers in sports.”

Seattle Sounders FC

“When Sounders FC launched its official social justice framework last August, one of the vows we made to the community was to address the deep-seated inequity of opportunities in our sport for women and BIPOC,” said Sounders FC Owner and President of Business Operations Peter Tomozawa. “Participating in this new program offered by Seattle University provides a great step toward that goal, and we’re honored to join our fellow local professional franchises to make this investment in developing diverse talent. We recognize that this is still a first step. There remains a great deal of work to be done, but we’re committed to working together to make our community a better place.”

 Seattle Storm

“The Seattle Storm is honored to join our fellow professional sports franchises in support of Seattle University’s MBA program focused on diversity in the sports and entertainment industry,” said Alisha Valavanis, CEO and General Manager of the Seattle Storm. “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion lie at the heart of the Storm’s core values, business practices and platforms. Given the tremendous organizational alignment with Seattle University’s program, Force 10 Enterprises & the Storm are thrilled to be involved.”

About the Albers School of Business and Economics at Seattle University

Located in the heart of Seattle, the nationally ranked Albers School of Business and Economics is one of the premier business schools in the Northwest United States. Small class sizes and low student-to-faculty ratios ensure that a student is never just a number. Students benefit from the school’s deep business connections through mentorships, internships, and employment opportunities. Albers is distinct for its 70+ year legacy in championing the responsibility of business to create a better society.

About Seattle Kraken

The Seattle Kraken are the National Hockey League’s newest franchise, set to play their inaugural season in 2021-2022 at Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center, developed by Oak View Group. Visit for the latest news and information including press releases, multimedia content and the latest hires.

About Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners play in the Western Division of Major League Baseball’s American League. Founded in 1977, the Mariners play home games at T-Mobile Park, next to Seattle’s busy working waterfront, the historic Pioneer Square and Chinatown International District neighborhoods, and SODO urban industrial zone. Since it was opened in 1999, the ballpark has earned praise as one of the best ballparks in baseball with outstanding sightlines and fan-friendly amenities. The Mariners have one of the youngest rosters in baseball made up of talented, exciting athletes including 2020 American League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis and Gold Glove winners J.P. Crawford and Evan White. The Mariners open the 2021 MLB season at T-Mobile Park on Thursday, April 1, against the San Francisco Giants.

About Climate Pledge Arena

Climate Pledge Arena, located at Seattle Center, will be the first net Zero Carbon certified arena in the world. It will serve as a long-lasting and regular reminder of the urgent need for climate action. The Climate Pledge, which was founded by Amazon and Global Optimism in 2019, is a commitment from companies globally to be net Zero Carbon by 2040. The complete redevelopment of this historic landmark, originally built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, will be an industry first. Home to the NHL’s Seattle Kraken, WNBA’s Seattle Storm, and the world’s biggest performers of live music and events, Climate Pledge Arena will open in 2021. Learn more at

About Oak View Group (OVG)

Oak View Group (OVG) is a global sports and entertainment company founded by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff in 2015. OVG is focused on being a positive disruption to business as usual in the sports and live entertainment industry and currently has 8 divisions across 4 global offices (Los Angeles, New York, London, and Philadelphia). OVG is leading the redevelopment and operations of Climate Pledge Arena as well as leading arena development projects in Belmont, NY, Austin, TX, and Milan, Italy. OVG Global Partnerships, a division of OVG, is the sales and marketing arm responsible for selling across all OVG Arena Development projects.

About Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks joined the National Football League (NFL) in 1976 as an expansion team. The Seahawks have won 11 division titles and three conference championships. They are the only team to have played in both the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC) championship games. They have appeared in three Super Bowls, (Super Bowl XL, Super Bowl XLVIII and Super Bowl XLIX). The Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos, 43-8, in Super Bowl XLVIII to win their first title. The team plays at Lumen Field in downtown Seattle. 

About Seattle Sounders FC

Winner of the 2019 and 2016 MLS Cup, 2014 MLS Supporters’ Shield and four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championships (2009, 2010, 2011, 2014), Sounders FC is Seattle’s Major League Soccer franchise. The club received an MLS charter on November 13, 2007 and has set a league record by qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs in every year of its existence. Sounders FC reached a milestone in 2016 as the franchise claimed its first MLS Cup championship, before earning its second title in 2019, hoisting the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy in front of a home crowd of 69,274 fans. Since the club’s debut MLS season in 2009, Sounders FC has set the standard for soccer support in North America, leading the league in attendance for eight consecutive seasons (2009-2016) and routinely ranking in the top 30 in attendance among all professional teams internationally. Prior to joining MLS, the Seattle Sounders organization has been a part of the greater Seattle community and U.S. Soccer professional scene since 1974.

About the Seattle Storm

The Seattle Storm is a four-time WNBA championship team that brings a premium professional basketball and entertainment experience to a fan-base rich in tradition and support. The organization leverages its community-building platforms to contribute to Puget Sound’s economic growth and enhance its citizens’ quality of life. The Storm actively expresses its embrace of diversity, equity, and inclusion through its practice of fighting for social and racial justice across the country. This work, through the Force4Change initiative, includes amplifying Black leaders and encouraging investment in Black communities. In addition, with its focus on fitness and health, the Storm promotes local youth development in the areas of leadership and sports, with an emphasis on girls and women. For more information, visit

Media Contacts:

Alicia Kan

Albers School of Business and Economics | Seattle University

206 296 5732

Chris Guizlo or Kyle Wall

Fearey for The Seattle Kraken


Rebecca Hale

Seattle Mariners


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