The University of South Carolina College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management is proud to welcome William A. Sutton as a professor of practice in the Department of Sport and Entertainment Management.
Sutton is a former NBA executive, a distinguished academician and a proven sports marketing practitioner who brings a half-century of experience in the sport industry. His arrival strengthens an already outstanding faculty at South Carolina, the top-ranked sport science program in the United States since 2016. The reputation of the sport and entertainment management faculty and the desire to help students launch their careers played an important part in Sutton’s decision to take the job.
“After seven years at the NBA, I came to the conclusion that selling a million-dollar deal isn't any better than placing a student in their first job. There's a rush you get from starting someone off on their career, and I've always enjoyed that,” Sutton says.
"Bill has been a longtime friend of our department. When the opportunity came along to bring him on board to work with our students and faculty, it was a no-brainer,” says Department of Sport and Entertainment Management Chair Matt Brown. “Bill will help our program as it continues to grow, serving as both a mentor to our students and faculty. I am extremely excited to be working with him."
Sutton’s arrival also closes a long circle. Guy Lewis, founder of South Carolina’s sport management program, recruited him to join the faculty in 1990. Sutton chose an industry role instead, but 32 years later the timing was just right.
As a professor of practice, a specialized position designed for individuals who can teach from exceptional professional expertise, Sutton will work primarily with master’s students, and says his main focus will be helping prepare them for the workforce. South Carolina’s Master of Sport and Entertainment Management program is among the nation’s best in the SportBusiness Postgraduate Course Rankings.
“In the last seven years of my teaching career, my grad students had a 100% job placement rate, and that was always very important to me. If you’re investing years of your life with me, I’m going to deliver,” he says. “I want to make sure that they're prepared to enter the industry. I want to get involved, get them involved in some experiential learning. I want them to understand what the requirements are to be successful in the industry, get them exposed to that early on in the grad program and then work with them all through the program so they're successful when they graduate.”
Sutton is the founder and principal of Bill Sutton & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in strategic marketing, revenue enhancement and organizational chemistry. He has held previous academic appointments at Robert Morris University, the Ohio State University, the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, the University of Central Florida and most recently the University of South Florida, where he served as director and professor emeritus at the Vinik Sport and Entertainment Graduate program.
His consulting clients include the NBA, NFL, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia 76ers, Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Mets.
He served for six years as NBA vice president, team marketing and business operations, assisting teams with teams with marketing related functions such as sales, promotional activities, market research, advertising, customer service, strategic planning and staffing.
Sutton has authored more than 200 articles (refereed and non-refereed) and has made more than 300 national and international presentations. He is a past president of North American Society for Sport Management and a founding member and past president of the Sport Marketing Association and the Sport Marketing Quarterly – a publication where he has also served as co-editor. He is also a featured author for Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal, where his Sutton Impact column is a monthly feature.
Sutton’s career also includes service as a special events coordinator for the city of Pittsburgh and commissioner of the Mid-Ohio Conference. A native of Pittsburgh, Sutton holds three degrees (B.A. 1972, M.S. 1980, Ed.D. 1983) from Oklahoma State University, where he was inducted into the College of Education Hall of Fame in 2003. Sutton is also an inaugural member of the Robert Morris University Sport Management Hall of Fame and recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the Southern Sport Management Association. The Sport Marketing Association created the Sutton Award to honor his accomplishments linking academia to the sport industry.