Michael Schreck, 36, has been in the Sports industry since he graduated college at the age of 22. With 14-years experience in the field, he has a wealth of knowledge and contacts, and that has helped shape him into the successful businessman he is today.

At an early age, Michael knew he was not going to fulfill his boyhood dream of being a pro athlete, so he focused his career goals towards the business side of sports, as his chosen career path. That path took him to the New York Mets, where he was a successful sales executive. After that, he moved to Westwood One Sports, where he ascended to the Sports Division leadership role at the young age of 31, adding securing and negotiating talent, and media rights deals to his portfolio of skills and areas of expertise.

Today, Michael, along with his partners, Ray Katz and Neil Malvone, run a company called Collegiate Sports Management Group (CSMG). The mission of their company is to enhance the business of Division II and Division III colleges and conferences and increasingly those at the “mid-major” level of Division I while increasing exposure for these true student-athletes. CSMG accomplishes these dual goals by acting as a properties group as well as negotiating media exposure and sponsorship deals.

Interview

Q: Tell us about you?

Mike: “I’m the CEO and co-founder of Collegiate Sports Management Group. I grew up an athlete and played a great deal of sports, starting at the varsity level in High School in Basketball and Soccer, while developing a passion for both sports and business. If you can't play professional sports you might as well work in professional sports.

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I started my career as a ticket sales representative for the New York Mets back in 2003, and worked my way up through their sales organization fairly quickly. I spent four-and-a-half-years with the Mets, in a variety of roles, ranging from ticket sales and suite hospitality sales, to sponsorship sales, game operations and more.

“After 4 years of working for the Mets, I met a gentleman named David Halberstam, who at the time was running Westwood One Sports Radio. David and I spent some time together and I was offered an opportunity to join Westwood One Sports, which I did in 2006. This seemed like a logical career move given the importance of media as a driver of enterprise value for teams and leagues, as well as the national scope. I spent nine years at Westwood One Sports and was promoted four times in nine years, starting as a manager and working my way up to Senior Vice President running the entire sports division with oversight of: the entire sports P and L, over 30 employees, advertising and sponsorship sales, contract negotiations with a broad range of top sports organizations including the National Football League, the Masters, the Olympics, the NHL, and the NCAA.

It was my work with the NCAA that convinced me to leave in 2014 and start Collegiate Sports Management Group with a vision of creating a sports properties group at the college level outside of the so called “Power 5/65”. I believed that the combination of my skills and experience in sponsorship, ticketing, media/broadcast negotiations and Intellectual property rights, along with the skills of my business partners, Ray Katz and Neil Malvone, helped us grow into a fully integrated college sports marketing and media business.

“Collegiate Sports Management Group is a full service sports properties group, and as such we focus on: media marketing sponsorship, licensing, content creation and distribution, as well as other areas where college conferences and athletic universities need help driving revenue, building their content production capabilities and media network, or creating a growth strategy. To date, we have 10 conferences and north of 150 schools signed on our portfolio, and are increasingly working on college venue naming rights as a means of helping schools balancing the budget at this level of college sports.

“The growth trajectory for the company has been and continues to be based on aggregating scale for these conferences and athletic institutions, however we also have found another niche in identifying and proliferating best in class practices across all disciplines mentioned above, and securing media partners, as well as focusing on content creation and distribution. These areas have become more important for these schools and conferences, because outside of the 'power 5 conferences and power 65 schools', media rights fees have largely vanished or have been dramatically reduced, while production costs decrease, and content consumption has shifted from the television to streaming online both on the desktop and even more via mobile.”

Q: What goes into a typical deal for CSMG?

Mike: “The nice thing about Collegiate Sports Management Group as a properties group is that there is not one 'off the shelf' solution for every school or conference. The powerful aspect of the CSMG offering is the broad range of credentials and core competencies that the partners cumulatively bring to the table with backgrounds and experience in; event marketing, sponsorship buying, selling, and valuation, content creation, media rights strategy, and a broad range of negotiations. Our approach is to align and customize our client offerings with the specific skills and experience that each conference or school might need.

“We have deals that range from representing conferences or schools for all aspects of their revenue line items to advising on marketing, media and sponsorship to only focusing on sponsorship or media. CSMG can also help them develop their strategy for social media. We truly remain discipline neutral and focus our services in any area or areas where a college, conference, or property might need collegiate sports management expertise.

“CSMG has had a tremendous growth spurt across the second half of ‘16 and through 2017. We currently represent the Colonial Athletic Association for media rights, having supported their efforts to leverage the fact that we were able to help make all contracts co-terminus. We represent the MEAC conference which is the largest historically black colleges and universities conference in the country for both media and sponsorship. Additionally, we represent six Division-II conferences across the country for multimedia rights marketing and sponsorship. Across all conferences we have found that a key area is helping them in developing content production, curation, and distribution. We also represent several Division-II schools and a few events, including the Dream Bowl college football all-star weekend, as well as several college sports awards including the Golden Spikes award for college baseball player of the year and the Maxwell football club for college football player of the year. In all, we have been able to grow the business fairly quickly.”

Difference in collegiate levels

Q: How have you found working across Division II/III and Division I “mid-majors” rather than the “Power 5/65”?

Mike: “The vision really started with our team wanting to help the smaller college athletic programs and conferences. They are not on television, but given the extensive and revolutionary changes across the media landscape with respect to fan viewing habits, content consumption habits in general and a decrease in production costs, opportunity is not limited to television. Five- to seven-years ago social media was non-existent. Now social media is huge and folks are consuming more and more media and doing so in increasingly diverse ways. We are seeing the next generation, often called millennials, generally consuming more content on their mobile devices, on their tablets, and on their desktops. Don't get me wrong, linear television is not going away, but there are a lot more players in the space now from a media standpoint that are looking for this type of live content, with a notable premium on live sports content.

“Whether it's Amazon or Facebook or Twitter or some of these other networks that are being created right now, or entities like Netflix, Disney, etc, this is a very dynamic time period for over-the-top television. There are an increasing number of different outlets right now through whom college sports entities can provide their fans with content. Most of the power 65 type content, which are the Alabama’s, the Florida’s, and Michigan’s of the world, have their media deals currently locked up with ESPN, FOX or CBS.

"On the other hand, in our world, the next level down, there are very few long-term contracts in place. This enables this level of school and conference to increase their exposure, which ultimately will lead to more applicants at these schools, and maintain quantity and quality of students, while driving revenue to sustain college athletics.

"This is what drives us every day, the ability to do some good for the true student athlete, while doing well by capitalizing on the monumental changes we are seeing in media today."