Name: Brandon Rhodes
Dual Degree: Sport Management & Business Administration, 2013
Current Occupation: Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships, Overtime
What is Overtime and what do you do in your current role?
Overtime is a sports network for the next generation. We are capturing Gen Z and Millennials and serving them with internet sports content (basketball, football, soccer, and eSports). Overtime has grown to 40 million followers during the last three years and is averaging about 1.5 billion video views monthly.
I have been at Overtime for two years working as the senior director of strategic partnerships. In my role, I focus on finding new lines of business and opportunities in international markets, being a liaison to team agencies, and getting creative with new business ideas. As the second revenue hire, I focused on building our brand partnerships, doing deals with companies like Nike, Gatorade, Adidas, Under Armour, and McDonald's. The unit grew to a 15-person team before I transitioned to my current role in business development.
What have you done since you graduated?
I worked at Gatorade for the first five years of my career. I was on the innovation team, which creates new products for elite athletes before transitioning the products into retail. I also spent two years building Gatorade’s global brand, working with soccer clubs like FC Barcelona and Manchester City to launch relevant overseas content. I then transitioned into digital marketing, where I oversaw Gatorade’s social media accounts and worked on anything touching the internet. It was during my time in digital marketing that I met the people at Overtime. I was doing a deal with Twitter where we would create live broadcasts and cover high school basketball games featuring players like Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. Overtime was the most authentic voice in that space, so I brought them on to be a part of that deal. I eventually met the co-founders, heard their vision for the company, and made the jump to work for them full-time.
Outside of that, I have been involved in non-profits, sat on the Sport Management Advisory Board for a couple of years, and been advocating for social justice, including launching a podcast called “The Work '' through Overtime. I also created the Millennium Council for Young Chicago Authors, which is the largest slam poetry festival in the world.
How has your Sport Management degree contributed to your success?
The best thing the Sport Management program prepares you for is having a broad understanding of how the whole industry works, where the money comes from, and how the pieces come together. Once you get into a job, everything you learn is really on the job itself versus the material you learn in the classroom. What the classroom does well is put you in a lot of settings where you’re working with colleagues doing group projects. Work is essentially a bunch of group projects.
A lot of the value also comes from student organizations. When I was a student, I was on the board for the Sport Business Association (SBA), interned for athletic departments, and started the Michigan Sport Business Conference (MSBC), which was one of the things that helped me get into the industry.
Why did you start MSBC?
I came from a place without a lot of means, and I didn’t have a lot of connections, so I tried to figure out a way to supercharge my ability to network and get in front of companies. I didn’t see a very accessible way to do that. Sports Business Journal and MIT conferences are thousands of dollars and are targeted at corporate entities. I thought we could bring all these top-notch speakers and companies here to U-M, and students at large and with backgrounds like myself would have increased access to be able to achieve their professional dreams.
I also attended Northwestern University’s MBA undergrad conference and saw how well it was run, so I thought there is not a high-quality conference for undergrads, run by undergrads, at an accessible price point. U-M has the most active alumni base in the world, and we have Sport Management, Ross School of Business, and the athletic department to support us. Shortly thereafter, I met my co-founder, Dustin Cairo, who had the same idea as me. It was two years of non-stop work starting in my sophomore year. We got ten dual-degree students together, created a 20-page business plan, and pitched our ideas to the deans of Kinesiology, Ross, and former Athletic Director Dave Brandon. During the first year, we tried to get speakers and sponsors for the following winter, but it was not turning out the way we wanted, so we decided to postpone until the fall. Our goal was to lock in Stephen Ross and sell 500 tickets. Most importantly, we wanted to get enough sponsorship dollars to keep the ticket cost accessible. Tickets were $20 the first year after sponsorship, and we were able to accomplish all our goals.
What are your thoughts on what MSBC has become?
It’s incredible. The students get such a rich experience, and the way it has become sustainable, thanks to the board of advisors, the alumni committee, and the students who stay on to help advise the next group, is what gives me the most pride overall. This year was truly unique because it was the first virtual conference, and I’m proud of how well the students rose to that challenge. Nobody expected COVID-19, and nobody wanted it to be this way, but the students pulled off an incredible event with highly engaging content including speakers like Bill Simmons, Joe Tsai, and Mia Hamm.
Michigan is a special place where there are unlimited opportunities. So try a lot of things, find your interests and passions because there are no shortage of opportunities. Then, dive in on a few things because you will get more experiences and more enrichment in something if you’re diving into it versus being spread so thin.
Tell us about your experience in the Sport Management program.
I knew as a freshman I wanted to get into sports, but I thought I wanted to become an agent. And going through that process, especially Dr. Tom George’s (assistant professor of clinical practice in Applied Exercise Science and Sport Management) Sport Management 101 class gave me a broader sense of the industry. I met some of my best friends, who now have become my colleagues. SBA was my first exposure to industry executives, and being able to travel to cities like Chicago and New York to visit with them was incredible. Dr. Mark Rosentraub’s (Bickner Endowed Professor of Sport Management) class was one of my favorite and best classes I took at U-M. His class allowed me to see the different angles of the industry and its impact on society, and the course rigor and critical thinking became applicable to everything else I took. I had a great time in the program. It was great to get into a degree and get into all the different Sport Management organizations. My biggest recommendation would be to take advantage of the opportunities that surround it.
What is the best part of U-M’s Sport Management program?
It empowers the Sport Business Association to activate the community around Sport Management. When I was a freshman and Daniel Schachne was a senior, for me not knowing what I wanted to do, to see his career path start with the NBA, that gives you a visual of what you could become one day. Even further than that, having people like Mark Silverman, who at the time was the president of the Big Ten Network, or even Dan Gilbert, who owned a team, come in and speak to us and be in the classroom is a unique opportunity for undergraduates. It gives you a sense of where you want to go.
What would you like prospective students to know?
Michigan is a special place where there are unlimited opportunities. So try a lot of things, find your interests and passions because there are no shortage of opportunities. Then, dive in on a few things because you will get more experiences and more enrichment in something if you’re diving into it versus being spread so thin. For Sport Management specifically, I think students should know the power of networking and the power of internships. Those are two of the most important things you can do to reach your eventual career goal. Networking doesn’t just mean networking up. It means staying in touch with your peers and using them as resources. You’re all going to be in the industry together and trying to do deals together, and it’s better to be doing deals with your friends.