From the mountain west—a region that continues to grow as an outdoor sports mecca—Utah State and the Huntsman School of Business have produced some top executives for the professional sports industry. A short description of a few of them follows.
Charlie Denson, ’78, marketing, for example, is president of the powerful NIKE Brand. He has been in the athletic consumer products industry for 30-plus years, after starting out in 1979 as assistant manager at Nike’s very first retail store, in Portland, Oregon. He went on to run Nike’s U.S. and European operations, and he launched Nike into Brazil, India, and China. Today he leads strategy for nine top Nike categories, ranging from Basketball and Running to Women’s Training and the Jordan Brand.
David Olsen, the CFO of the Carolina Panthers, graduated in 1967 with a degree in finance, and added an MBA in 1968. He worked for the Buffalo Bills for 15 years before he became the Panthers’ CFO in 1994. The Panthers completed a new privately financed stadium in 1996. Each year he sets the overall budget, including a system of controls to keep things under the budget caps.
Gar Forman, ’82, marketing and education, is now the general manager of basketball operations for the Chicago Bulls. He started as a scout in 1998 and has been promoted repeatedly since then, until he became general manager in 2009. He was named a co-recipient of the 2010-11 NBA Executive of the Year after the Bulls won a league-best 62 games.
M. Steve Mullins, ’03, marketing, is the vice president of corporate partnerships for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He joined the organization in 2007 and has generated more than $6 million in new and incremental revenue. He helped the Arizona team achieve a 45 percent increase in sponsorship revenues, according to the Diamondbacks’ website.