Last week, Michael Lenox, Senior Associate Dean & Chief Strategy Officer at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, held a workshop for the University’s varsity athletics coaches to discuss ideas about applying business strategies to their sports.
The coaches that participated in the discussion included associate athletic director for programs Jane Miller; men’s basketball head coach Tony Bennett and associate head coach Ron Sanchez; women’s basketball assistant coach La’Keshia Frett Meredith; assistant athletic director for operations Sarah Holsinger; men’s lacrosse head coach Lars Tiffany and assistant coaches Kip Turner and Sean Kirwan; women’s lacrosse head coach Julie Myers and assistant coaches Lindsay Rogers and Colleen McCaffrey; track and field assistant coach Martin Maric; field hockey head coach Michele Madison; rowing head coach Kevin Sauer; and athletic administration intern Kyle King, senior. The all-day seminar was held in the i.Lab in Darden.
The idea for the professional development workshop started with the Executive Associate Athletics Director Jon Oliver, who attended one of Michael Lenox’s sessions on business strategy. Oliver believed that Lenox’s sessions would be applicable to the University’s coaches, so he discussed of his idea for a voluntary one-day coaches workshop.
“As an avid UVA sports fan and, as a business strategy scholar, I’ve always been intrigued by the business of sports, so I was enthusiastic about the opportunity,” Lenox told WUVA News.
The main goal of the workshop was to remind the coaches of UVa’s unique character when it comes to business strategies in their sports.
“One of the things we emphasize in business strategy is identifying how you can uniquely create value for your stakeholders,” Lenox said. “I challenged the coaches to articulate what is unique and defensible – i.e. hard for others to imitate – about their programs. That is where truly sustainable competitive advantage comes from.”
Lenox had the coaches focus on how to create values for all their stakeholders, including students, families, and the University community.
“One of the most interesting conversations we had was about how each of the athletics teams were linked,” Lenox said. “This led to a discussion of the common values shared across athletic teams at UVa. Perhaps not surprisingly, there was a recognition that UVa is known for doing things the right way and for embracing the student part of student-athlete.”
There are future plans for more workshops in order to give the other coaches who were unable to attend Lenox’s first program an opportunity to partake in the experience.