News Archive

Papa John and other industry leaders to speak at third Sport & Entertainment Lecture Series in January

Lecture Series Flyer

*A previous version of this article stated that Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber would be speaking as part of this series. Regrettably, Garber will not be able to attend this year. 

This January, the USF Sport & Entertainment Lecture Series presented by Fox Sports Florida and the Tampa Bay Lightning will feature top executives in the sport and entertainment industries - the former head of the WNBA, CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers, and the pizza mogul best known as Papa John.

The lecture series will take place January 13 and 14, with talks at 4:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Jan. 13 and at 4:30 on Jan. 14 in USF's Marshall Student Center Oval Theater, 4103 USF Cedar Circle, Tampa, FL 33620. The lessons shared by these leaders will be widely applicable across disciplines beyond the sport & entertainment industries. Admission is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required.

Kicking off the series at 4:30 on Wednesday, Jan. 13, Scott O'Neil will speak about creating a competitive advantage through talent and culture. O'Neil is CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers NBA team, the New Jersey Devils NHL team, and the Prudential Center arena. He is known in the industry for having an eye for talent and developing those people to create an inspiring workplace, with the Philadelphia 76ers recognized as one of 2015's best places to work in the city. O'Neil's leadership has resulted in the Devils and Sixers being among the top teams in key metrics, including season ticket holder growth and renewal rate. He is a member of SportsBusiness Journal's 40 Under 40 Hall of Fame.

Following O'Neil at 7:00, John "Papa John" Schnatter will have a conversation with Abe Madkour, who is editor of the SportsBusiness Journal. Schnatter founded Papa John's Pizza in 1984 and opened the first restaurant a year later in a former broom closet in a bar his father owned. Thirty years later, it is now one of the largest takeout and delivery restaurant chains in the world, and consumers worldwide know its slogan of "Better Ingredients. Better Pizza. Papa John's." Audience members can expect to hear about how the Papa John's Pizza company took advantage of sports advertising to build a $1.6 billion publicly traded pizza franchise. Schnatter will also be presented with the USF Sport & Entertainment Management program's "Sport Marketer of the Year" award.

On Thursday, Jan. 14, Donna Orender will begin the day's events with a talk at 4:30 p.m.: "The Power of the Ball," presented in collaboration with USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy. Orender, who is the former president of the WNBA and now is the founder and CEO of the Jacksonville women's leadership conference Generation W, will speak about leveling the playing field in industry, business, and sports. During her time as the WNBA president, the association saw four consecutive years of growing attendance, increased TV ratings, digital growth, and merchandise sales. With Generation W, she focuses on educating, inspiring, and connecting women and girls. Orender also runs Orender Unlimited, her consulting and advisory company, out of Jacksonville.

RSVP through Eventbrite at to reserve a seat. The lecture series is organized by the USF Muma College of Business Sport & Entertainment Management Program, which is in its fourth year at USF. The program offers a path for students to gain their MBAs and gain experience through residencies with partner organizations -- including the Tampa Bay Lightning, which is the founding partner of the program.