Sport & Entertainment Management

Jeff & Penny Vinik: Tampa Bay Lightning Owners, Investors, Patrons of the Arts, Civic Leaders and Philanthropists

Success is second nature to Jeff and Penny Vinik, whether in investments, professional sports or urban development. But the owners of the Tampa Bay Lightning have made an equally indelible mark in another arena: giving back to the community. The impact of their philanthropy reaches throughout the region – and the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business is grateful to be a recipient of their generosity.

The Viniks have provided more than $5 million in support of the college's Sport & Entertainment Management program – an initiative that has helped train students for industry careers and given the Lightning hockey franchise and other sports and entertainment venues a pipeline of aspiring executives in the making.

Now, in recognition of all they have done for USF and the Muma College of Business, the dual-degree, sports-focused graduate program will be known as the Vinik Sport and Entertainment Management Program. "Jeff and Penny Vinik are inspirational, charitable civic leaders who love Tampa Bay, USF and the family entertainment business that they lead," commented USF System President Judy Genshaft. "I can't think of two more deserving individuals to receive the honor of having this program named after them."

The Viniks couldn't be prouder of the research and talent the program has steadily produced. "It has just been fantastic," Jeff said. "We've had great interns and residents who have worked for us, gaining experience for themselves. It's been an incredible win-win experience."

In his view, excellent leadership has already vaulted the sport management program into the upper echelon of such undertakings nationwide. "It's really a well-designed program," he said. "And it's going to be one of the best in the country."

Over the past few years, the Viniks and USF have been mutually supportive partners. Two years ago, Muma College of Business Dean Moez Limayem awarded Jeff with an honorary professorship. He was also honored that year at the annual Celebration of Free Enterprise, the premier fundraising event for the college, attended by hundreds of alumni and business leaders. One particular line in his acceptance speech said it all: "The partnership we have created was meant to be."

And now, bearing a name steeped in excellence and community support, a new chapter begins.