Susan O'Malley, First Female President of a Professional Sports Franchise, to Speak


Susan O'Malley

Feb. 27, 2013

CONWAY - In conjunction with the 2013 Big South Basketball Championships and the 40th Anniversary of Title IX, Susan O'Malley, the first female president of a professional sports franchise, will speak at Coastal Carolina University on Tuesday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. in Wheelwright Auditorium.

The lecture has been made possible by Terri DeCenzo, Coastal's first lady and the executive director of Women in Philanthropy and Leadership for Coastal Carolina University, and reflects the conference-wide commitment to Developing Leaders Through Athletics with particular emphasis on women's leadership.

"I am very pleased Terri DeCenzo and Women in Philanthropy and Leadership have been able to bring a renowned leader in the sports business world such as Susan O'Malley to speak to our student-athletes and members of the Coastal Carolina community," said Coastal Carolina Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek. "Our goal is to provide entertaining and enlightening programing for all parties involved for each of the three years we host the Big South Basketball Championships. Also, Susan O'Malley's history as a trailblazer and pioneer in the world of sports reflects the kinds of experiences we want to teach our student-athletes in Developing Champions For Life."

The event is open to Coastal Carolina University students, faculty and staff, as well as to community members. Admission is free and tickets are available in advance at the Wheelwright Box Office or at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.

"We are honored to have Susan O'Malley join us for this special event on women's leadership at the Big South Basketball Championships," said conference commissioner Kyle Kallander. "She is truly a pioneer in sport and I know our women's basketball student-athletes will enjoy an informative, entertaining and uplifting message. We want to thank Terri DeCenzo and Women in Philanthropy and Leadership for Coastal Carolina for their efforts in creating this opportunity. It is a great example of how the Big South Conference continues to Develop Leaders Through Athletics."

At age 29, O'Malley became the first female president of an NBA franchise as well as one of the first women in a major front-office position in major league sports. She is the former president of the NBA's Washington Bullets (now the Wizards) and Washington Sports and Entertainment. In her 20-year tenure with Washington Sports, she also ran the Verizon Center (formerly the MCI Center), the WNBA's Washington Mystics, and Ticketmaster Washington-Baltimore.

O'Malley took an organization ranked last to its counterparts in close to every category, and initiated policies and procedures that formed positive relationships with ticket holders, corporate sponsors, and the media. In her first season handling off-court activities, the team had the largest ticket revenue increase in the history of an NBA franchise to date. That same year, the club achieved its highest season ticket renewal rate, including the year following the 1977-78 Championship season. By the 2005-2006 season, the Wizards attracted more than 17,000 fans per game, had 14 sellouts and earned their second consecutive trip to the NBA playoffs. By the time she retired in 2007, the Verizon Center had recorded more than 21.2 million patrons.

She has been described as a skilled motivator, who "created a spirited, results-oriented work environment that has been emulated throughout professional sports." In stark contrast, as an elementary school student she wrote a paper stating her desire to run a sports franchise. Her teacher deemed the goal to be "unrealistic."

O'Malley earned a law degree from Georgetown University in 2007. She has taught sports business marketing at Georgetown University and currently is an assistant professor at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. She earned a bachelor's degree in business and finance from Mount St. Mary's University in 1983.

As part of the Big South Basketball Championships, 23 men's and women's Big South basketball teams will play in 21 games at The HTC Center beginning Tuesday, March 5; the men's and women's championship games will be held on Sunday, March 10. For tickets, please call the Athletics Ticket Office at 843-347-8499.



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