Maryville Celebrates a Decade with Rawlings

Commemorating a Partnership That’s Changed the Face of Sport Business

(Note: This article originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Maryville Magazine)

For over 10 years, Rawlings Sporting Goods and Maryville University have cultivated an unparalleled educational partnership, allowing Maryville University students to gain valuable industry experience and build relationships.

In 2008, the sport business management program at Maryville University was established as part of the John E. Simon School of Business. But in 2013, the program made a change that would significantly impact its current and future students: It became the Rawlings Sport Business Management (RSBM) program, the first corporately named sport business management program in the country.

“We began working together simply by doing things that helped each other,” said Jason Williams, EdD, ’14, program director and assistant dean of the John E. Simon School of Business. “A decade later, we’re still providing high-quality research assistance to Rawlings, as well as volunteers and interns, and they continue to work closely with our students to help them develop professionalism and job-ready skills.”


On Feb. 1, 2023, the 10-year anniversary celebration took place at Busch Stadium. It was a frosty evening, but the cold temperatures still yielded a great turnout to the event. It was held at the Redbird Club, a spacious locale filled with the spirit of the St. Louis Cardinals and teaming with festive décor.

As the presentation began, more than 180 guests huddled around the tables, smiling, handshaking and ready to celebrate award winners as well as hear from the key people that made this all happen. The event kicked off with warm introductions, followed by a brief speech from Maryville University President Mark Lombardi on the importance of corporate partnerships in higher education.

Lombardi recognized Williams and the rest of the faculty and staff at Maryville for their tireless support, and he introduced Mike Zlaket, president and CEO of Rawlings Sporting Goods.

“This is a perfect example of how collegiate curriculum and corporate partnerships should work. Designed to get learners involved, engaged and actively working in the field doing wonderful things by partnering with a company that is enlightened and visionary enough to embrace it,” Lombardi said. “For over 10 years, significant work has been done by our students, by the great people at Rawlings, by everyone; it never would have happened if not for the great leadership of Jason Williams and the amazing work our faculty, staff, students and all of the employees at Rawlings.”

Zlaket lauded the program’s curriculum, practicality and fantastic end results. He attributed the success of the program to the in depth curriculum; its practicality of focusing on professional outcomes; and the dedication of faculty, staff and students alike.

Rawlings Sporting Goods Maryville University Sport Business Management Program


After 10 years, the partnership is stronger than ever. Some Rawlings executives are adjunct professors in the program, and others are guest speakers for classes. They offer career development opportunities, including internships specifically developed for Maryville students. They also provide elite gear and equipment for the University’s softball and baseball programs.

The strong partnership with Rawlings gives Maryville students access to work on real-life projects related to product design, innovation and market research. The strength of combining real-world experience along with data-focused approaches has helped set the standard in the advancement of sport business education and provides students access to unique opportunities. Students analyze and interpret data related to player performance, fan behavior, marketing and other areas.

In addition to the strong partnership with its namesake, Williams and program faculty have developed relationships with other organizations in the sports industry — like the Missouri Valley Conference, the St. Louis Cardinals, Peak Sports, Anheuser-Busch and many other industry organizations. “The sport business industry is our classroom,” Williams said. Through these partnerships, there are countless opportunities for RSBM students to volunteer and intern while earning their degree. This year alone, RSBM students had more than 50 volunteer opportunities within the sports industry, including rare hands-on experiences working major events for top-tier brands across the country.

Countless Maryville students have interned with Rawlings over the past 10 years, with many hired full time after graduation. “Rawlings has benefited from our strong partnership with Maryville in myriad ways, from receiving professional- level product and brand research and invaluable support at industry events to having direct access to the most talented students for internship and full-time positions,” said Ron Ostrowski, president of Rawlings.

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