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December 21, 2021

The Tisch Institute’s Daniel Kelly Discusses a Major Executive Education Program Developed for the NFL

Since joining the Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport as academic director for the Graduate Programs and a clinical associate professor in August 2019, Daniel Kelly, PhD, has been helping make the Tisch Institute one of the most respected forces in sports business education.

Leveraging his experience in running executive education programs in Spain, the UK, India, Argentina, and Qatar, Kelly was instrumental in helping launch the NYU-NFL Sports Executive Education Program.

How did the idea of this executive education program with the NFL come about?
During the summer of 2020, the NFL pledged $250 million over 10 years to combat systemic racism, and to support police and education reform, and part of this initiative was committed to helping better prepare executives of color for leadership roles in the League and in team front offices. With that in mind, Associate Dean Vince Gennaro, my colleague, Clinical Associate Professor Brandon Brown, and I had discussions with the League to create a comprehensive executive education program that would help support the its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) commitment and enhance the development of the next generation of NFL leaders.

Those discussions led to creating the inaugural NYU-NFL Sports Executive Education Program offered to NFL and team executives, starting this past June and running through October. This year’s program, which included 17 League and team executives and was taught by more than 10 Tisch Institute faculty members. It consisted of four separate and distinct modules in the areas of executive leadership and managing change; strategic planning and financial analysis; marketing communications and analytics; and corporate communication and conflict resolution.

What topics and issues were addressed in these modules that were relevant to the participant?
The program curriculum was designed to address a range of areas, including: the changing preferences and needs of consumers and sports fans; value creation within one’s organization and role; project management tools and best practices; new technologies in sports, including 5G, artificial intelligence, and blockchain; leadership and followership in a dynamic, ever-changing environment; communicating to collaborate, with an emphasis on “listening” and two-way dialogue; incorporating data and information into decision-making processes; harnessing the true power of differences by understanding the underpinning of bias; and the power of sport to create social impact.

What has been the reaction to the program from the league, teams, and participants?
The overall reaction has been very positive. The program allows the NFL to better identify rising executive and leadership stars across all levels of the organization and teams. Participants were impressed by our team’s deep knowledge and understanding of their organization’s behaviors and operations, the overall curriculum, and the advice we shared with them on how to be successful on a leadership level in professional football. In particular, we received tremendous feedback on the 5G technology information we shared and our exercises on teaching participants how to let their authentic self shine through in leadership roles.

What other initiatives or research are you excited to work on in 2022?
I am looking forward to leading a research project on sports and trade on the continent of Africa. This initiative will focus on the Basketball Africa League and opportunities for increasing mega-events host opportunities. It will illustrate how sport can be an economic driver on the continent and its impact on business in the region.

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