Matt Salome was hoping to find a way into the business side of sports when he received his MBA from NC State this May. Little did he know that some work he did in class would be the key to open the door.
Salome loves sports, so when one of his professors told him this spring about someone looking for students to do some sports-related market research, Salome jumped at the chance. The “client” in this case was Michael Wranovics, the founder and CEO of something known as the Basketball Alumni Legends League, or The-BALL.
Wranovics’ plans are to create a league of basketball teams based in college-basketball hotbeds — like Raleigh — comprised of players who have finished their college eligibility but not made it to the NBA. The idea is to give those players a chance to continue playing in front of fans who are familiar with them from their college days. The goal is to have the league up and running by next summer.
But The-BALL is starting with a “soft launch” of two games this summer, a home-and-home series between teams from Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. And that’s where Salome comes back into the picture.
Salome did so much market research for Wranovics that he turned it into an independent study course. Not long after Salome graduated in May, Wranovics told him he could still use his help as the league was preparing for the two games this summer. He offered to pay Salome to move to Philadelphia and work with the league through early August, when the games will be played.
And so Salome had a foot in the door of the sports world.
“I do a little bit of everything, literally everything,” Salome says. That includes getting press releases out, doing social media for the league, managing the league’s Web site, taking care of press credentials for the two games, etc. “I’m kind of his right hand man for getting stuff done,” he says of Wranovics.
Unlike the NBA’s development league, The-BALL plans to put teams in college towns and stock them with players from the area. A Raleigh team, for example, would feature former players from NC State, UNC, Duke and other universities in North Carolina. The Washington team that will play this summer will have players from Georgetown, Maryland, George Mason and other area universities.
“There is a tremendous amount of talent that, for whatever reason, doesn’t make it to the NBA,” Salome says. “This is an opportunity to showcase some of those former college players.”
Salome says the league will also give fans a chance to keep up with some of their favorite players from their alma mater. “These guys will be playing in front of the crowds that are used to cheering for them,” he says.
Salome is enjoying the work, and hopes it evolves into a full-time job.
“How cool is it,” he asks, “to be able to say that I’m helping to launch a basketball league?”