Marketing department creates 'mini-farm system'

April 21, 2014

By Jerome Boettcher | Subscribe to Commodore Nation

As Vanderbilt’s director of sales and marketing, Steve Walsh heads up a never-ending pursuit to ensure the university’s athletic teams grow into a national brand.

Nationally, he can find the Star V imprint all over college athletic departments.

An integral part of Vanderbilt athletics, the marketing department has played a hand in helping student interns earn full-time jobs. Since 2009, at least 26 former Vanderbilt marketing interns have earned full-time jobs at universities or with professional sports teams across the country.

“It has become a mini-farm system for us,” said Walsh, who took over the marketing department in 2009. “It is an industry where you have to have experience in order to get a job. If we can create real-world experiences for these folks, and it is not an internship where you’re just shuffling papers but you’re actually doing legitimate work that can live on your resume I think we’ve created that atmosphere. I think that has helped land those people some jobs.”

Interns who cut their teeth with the Commodores are now working in marketing departments, such as Texas A&M, Arizona, Alabama, Wake Forest, Baylor and Ohio State. A few have moved on to the professional ranks to positions with the Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars.

Eric Bogle (senior ticket sales associate) and Kevin Fuhrer (assistant equipment manager for football) have full-time gigs at Vanderbilt. And many serve as assistant marketing directors, such as Trevor Spathelf at Wake Forest and Casey Doyle at Texas A&M.

Spathelf was hired by Bradley Keen, who was an assistant marketing director at VU for two years before becoming Wake Forest’s director of marketing last year. Doyle, in her first year at A&M after a season at Connecticut, has been called a future superstar by Walsh and has been lauded by A&M officials for her ingenuity and work ethic.

Both contributed in the growth of the marketing department. Keen and Allison Bradley, who is in her fourth year as an assistant marketing director, established an extensive internship program in 2011. Seeking more consistency and accountability from the interns, they reached out to Vanderbilt students and graduate students from the sports management programs at Belmont and Middle Tennessee State.

They appointed chief executive interns, Doyle and Spathelf, and made it their responsibility to oversee the student workers. Doyle handled day-to-day scheduling and compiled a policy and procedures manual for the interns to abide by. Spathelf was in charge of operations, which ranged from heading up the setup of Vandyville on game days to handling the music and video board.

“The good thing about Steve is he just sat back and watched,” Keen said. “He didn’t micro-manage. He didn’t step in and say, ‘Hey, I think you got too many. This isn’t the right person, this isn’t the right fit.’ He let us spread our wings, so to speak, and let us take ownership in the program, which trickled down to the student workers.”

Walsh includes student workers in the marketing department’s weekly staff meetings. He believes it is important for interns to take on “true responsibility,” feel invested in what they are doing and to know the department’s revenue and attendance goals.

“Steve and his people over there do a magnificent job and get very, very little public recognition for it,” athletic director David Williams said. “That is part of it. This is a business where the talent is the kids and coaches. And the rest of us are like stagehands. A play is not successful without good stagehands.”

Marketing Pipeline

A look at where former Vanderbilt interns are now

Kelsey Bacon       University of Arizona

Trevor Spathelf     Wake Forest

Tricia Adamczyk    University of Pittsburgh

Banks Shepherd    Baylor

Casey Doyle         Texas A&M

James Guth          Wake Forest

Gloria Caples        Middle Tennessee State University

Kyle Smith          Cal State Bakersfield

Marcus Mercer      Ohio State

Mallory Ham        Alliance Sports Marketing

Stevee Fisher       University of Alabama

Anthony Dudley    Nashville Sports Council

Toks Sokoya        Tennessee Titans

Ali Summer         Tennessee Titans

Eric Bogle            Vanderbilt

Kevin Fuhrer        Vanderbilt

Elise Broussard     Lamar University

Natalie Bobuk       Anaheim Ducks

Luke Bolanos       Ohio Valley Conference

Adam Burke        Nashville Sports Council

Tim House          University of Pennsylvania

Matt Hamann      Nashville Predators

Kelley Cash         Legacy Consulting

Kelly Jones         Dallas Stars

Eric Trimborn       UNC-Greensboro

Danielle Carratini    Stanford



Proud Sponsors of Commodore Athletics