USF to Host NFL, MLS Executives for Lectures on Oct. 26

Adam Freeman
TAMPA, Fla. – Two influential, national leaders in the professional sports industry - the chief operating officer of the National Football League and the commissioner of Major League Soccer - will discuss their experiences in the business of sports as part of a lecture series on Wednesday, Oct. 26, hosted by USF’s Sport & Entertainment Management Program.

Presented by Fox Sports Florida and the Tampa Bay Lightning, the speaker series, which is free and open to the public, takes place in the USF Sun Dome with lectures from Tod Leiweke, the COO of the NFL and Don Garber, the MLS commissioner, at 8:00 p.m. The lecture series, now in its fourth year, brings sports industry leaders to USF to discuss current sports issues, relationship management and global impact within the industry. Leiweke and Garber will have a candid conversation with Abe Madkour, the editor of the SportsBusiness Journal. The lessons shared by Leiweke and Garber will be widely applicable across disciplines well beyond sports and family entertainment.

Tod Leiweke, 5:30 p.m., Oct. 26, USF Sun Dome: Before being named COO of the NFL last year, Leiweke served as CEO of Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment at Lightning Hockey LP from 2010 - 2015. He has worked for more than 28 seasons in professional sports. Leiweke previously served as CEO of the Seattle Seahawks and Vulcan Sports & Entertainment. For his consistent successes as CEO of Trail Blazers, Inc, and the heralded launch of Sounders FC in 2009, he was named a finalist by Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal as the 2009 Sports Executive of Year. Additionally, Leiweke was named CEO of the Year by the Puget Sound Business Journal and CEO of the Year by the Seattle Sports Commission.

Don Garber, 8:00 p.m., Oct. 26, USF Sun Dome: Major League Soccer’s commissioner since 1999, Garber led the MLS’s addition of 13 expansion teams, built 15 new stadiums and renovated another two. Before working for MLS, Garber served in various parts of the NFL for 16 years. He is the creator of MLS WORKS, a community outreach initiative that is focused on philanthropic and community service issues. Garber was also inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at his undergraduate college, SUNY Oneonta. He has been listed among the most influential people in American sports by Time Magazine and BusinessWeek, and the SportBusiness Journal named him among the top 50 people in sports business every year since 2005.

Hundreds of students, faculty and staff are expected to attend the lecture, which is free and open to the public. Reservations are required for the first-come, first-served event. To reserve a seat visit The USF Sun Dome is located on USF campus in Tampa, located at 4202 E. Fowler Avenue.

The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 25 research university among public institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving over 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.6 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.