Two longtime sports business educators will open the coming school year in new surroundings.
Bill Sutton, who taught at UMass and was instrumental in the startup of well-regarded master’s programs at South Florida and Central Florida, will return from a brief hiatus from academia as a part-time faculty member at the University of South Carolina, the school announced.
And Jim Kahler, who created the sports administration center at Ohio University and led the school’s sports administration graduate program for 15 years, will lead a new bachelor’s degree program in sports and entertainment management launching this fall at Cleveland State University.
Bill Sutton will teach at South Carolina.South Carolina
Kahler left Ohio at the end of the spring semester, relocating to Cleveland to be closer to his adult children and grandchildren. He was soon contacted by Sutton, who was working as a consultant with Cleveland State on the ramp-up of its program, which was moving from the college of education to the business school. Intrigued, Kahler offered to sign on as director.
“It made all the sense in the world,” said Kahler, who was senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Cleveland Cavaliers before entering academia full time in 2002. “We already were moving here, and I like building things. Cleveland is special to me. I’m excited to write that final chapter in my career. And to be able to do it in your hometown is pretty special.”
Jim Kahler will lead a new program at Cleveland State.Cleveland State
Kahler will teach an introductory class and coordinate internships while working to build relationships with area sports properties, taking advantage of Cleveland State’s rare position as a large state university in an urban setting with three major pro franchises, minor league hockey and basketball and an active sports commission. He also sees the teams and other properties as fertile ground to mine for adjunct instructors.
“I know people at every sports team in town,” Kahler said. “I know some of the senior leadership and also some of my former students are now working their way up. One of the themes for Cleveland State is engaged learning. It’s my job to get the sports properties in town engaged.”
Sutton, a regular op-ed contributor to Sports Business Journal, will become a professor of practice in the sports management program at South Carolina, traveling from his Tampa home to spend about one week a month in Columbia, working with graduate students on experiential learning , career development and placement. The role will reunite him with industry friends Susan O’Malley, longtime president of the Washington Bullets and Wizards, and Danny Morrison, the former Carolina Panthers president and TCU athletic director, who both teach in the program.
“These people are friends of mine, so I’m looking forward to it,” said Sutton, who also knows faculty member Andy Gillentine and department chair Matt Brown well. “It’s going to be fun for me.”
Sutton, who retired from USF in 2019 but continues to work in sports marketing as a consultant, described the new gig as “closing the loop.”
He accepted a faculty job at South Carolina from then department chair Guy Lewis in 1990, but asked out of his contract when sports marketing firm Del Wilber offered to double his salary.
“I always felt Guy Lewis was so generous to me, letting me out of my contract,” Sutton said. “I’d bought a house, Sharon (Sutton’s wife) had gotten a job and my kids were enrolled in school. I had my ID. And I backed out. And they were so gracious about it.
Guy Lewis said ‘You gotta take that job.’ It was amazing that somebody would say that.”