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Student conference brings sports business experts to U of T

Industry leaders from media, marketing and law to appear

Sports television host Cabbie Richards (right) and producer Dave Krikst (left) are two of the speakers at the March 22 conference (photo courtesy Dave Krikst)

Heavy-hitters from the sports-business community will offer their advice to students at the second annual Sports Industry Conference, hosted by the University of Toronto Sports and Business Association (UTSB) at the Royal Ontario Museum March 22, 2013.

The conference schedule includes a keynote speech by U of T sports law professor Gord Kirke, as well as a discussions with former NHL-player and current TV commentator Kevin Weekes, Gerald Woodman, director of sporting goods at adidas Group, Leah MacNab from NBA Canada, Josh Epstein from Newport Sports Management, and others. The conference will conclude with a question-and-answer with TV host Cabral (Cabbie) Richards and his producer, Dave Krikst.

Natan Levi is president of the UTSB, which he co-founded in 2011 to create an outlet for students interested in starting a career in the sports industry. Levi spoke with U of T News about this year's conference events.

What programming are you most excited about at the conference?

What I am most excited for is to hear Kevin Weekes talk about his transition from a professional hockey player to a businessman. Many athletes have a tough time transitioning away from the sports world after their careers have come to an end. Kevin was able to start his own business and develop a great brand. As an aspiring entrepreneur I am very excited to hear about the advice he has for students who hope to start their own business one day.

Who should attend the conference? 

Our conference is geared towards students and recent graduates who have a passion for sports or a passion for business and want to learn about relevant industry trends and the future of the industry. The attendees are generally people who love sports and who would like a job in the industry, but have no idea how to get started in the sports world.

We're hoping that by coming to our conference, they will build some knowledge of the industry, network with professionals and hopefully begin taking the necessary steps towards getting into the sports world. This year we are proud to introduce a career fair throughout our event where employers can come and reach out to students who are looking for jobs.

How has the UTSB programming evolved since you first started out?

This is only the second season for UTSB and we are very happy about our growth. (Read more about UTSB.) This year we were able to secure sponsorship for the next three years from MBNA Bank which will allow us to continue to grow over the next few years. I hope that over the years to come, UTSB will only continue to expand and become one of the top sports conferences in the country.

Why did you start the UTSB?

UTSB was created because my friends Adrian Kania, Avish Sood and I had a dream to work in the sports industry. Being commerce students at Rotman Commerce we were consistently exposed to various business networking events. We quickly realized there is nothing geared towards the sports industry in Toronto so we decided that it would be up to us to bring the sports industry to students in Toronto.