On the Ball

UConn Consulting Group
Back row from left: Ezra Okon (Adviser), Justin Lee, Stephen Porcello, Laura Iliescu, Jason Mraz, Kunal Kataria, Romanna Romaniv, Katie Cavanaugh, Kyle Horvath, Paul Millerd (Adviser)
Bottom row from left: Edward Leardi, John McLaughlin, Matthew DeLeon, Jeffrey Noonan (Courtesy of Jason Mraz)

New Student-Led UConn Consulting Group Investigates Ways to Make Basketball Fans Love Games Even More

When UConn Athletics noticed a decline in basketball sales, they began to look for new ways to get fans into games. They introduced new package ticket deals, created the ‘Top Dog’ Program, and brought in the UConn Consulting Group (UCG) to help them further analyze UConn and the college basketball industry.

Primarily made up of undergraduate business students, the UCG is a competitive experiential learning group that pursues real-life (work) experience through select consulting projects. Each semester, the group takes on a new project and works to add value to a client’s strategy and operations while letting students develop skills that are, at best, extremely difficult to learn in a classroom.

The UCG worked with UConn Athletics through the fall 2015 semester to identify ways to improve the game-day experience for fans. They began by performing an in-depth analysis of UConn basketball and the different elements that have dramatically shifted the college basketball industry in recent years, such as conference realignment and technological advances. They also conducted extensive research, reaching out to more than 20 comparable universities, reading more than 50 academic research papers and articles, conducting three surveys and analyzing the results of some 1,800 respondents.

Throughout this process, the UCG identified key elements of success, as well as best practices from other universities that could be incorporated at UConn. At the end of the semester, the UCG presented its final recommendation to UConn Athletics.

“The UCG has gone above and beyond this semester to help UConn Athletics be the best it can be,” said John Seagrave, assistant director of marketing for UConn Athletics. “They have given us a lot to think about moving forward and we really appreciate all the work they did to help us out.”

The consulting group was created by Justin Lee ’15 as a way for UConn students to make an impact on their community. An accounting major, who discovered a passion for management consulting, Lee began by reaching out to alumni in the consulting industry and, with the help of Paul Millerd ’07 and Ezra Okon ’10, was able to form the UConn Consulting Group. UCG started with seven members and two alumni advisers, but has since grown to 13 members and four advisers, with more growth on the horizon.

“UCG has grown faster than I ever imagined,” said Lee, who is still an adviser. “The quality of students, and [their] passion to succeed will drive the group to be a premier organization at UConn. I cannot wait to see the group grow.”

Although the UCG has only completed two projects to date—UConn Athletics and a previous engagement with the UConn Foundation—it has experienced overwhelming success, and more importantly perhaps, has made a significant impact on the members.

“UCG has helped me with everything. My communication and technical skills have improved dramatically and it’s all I talk about in interviews,” said Katie Cavanaugh, a junior who is currently leading a project for a financial services startup. “Plus, UCG’s network of undergraduates and alumni advisers is arguably the best on campus. It really is an exceptional group and an incredible opportunity for UConn students.”

In the coming months, UCG will begin working with two start-ups—one based in Connecticut, the other in New York City. The projects will include detailed analyses of things such as revenue growth, cost/benefit of strategic partnerships, valuation, and overall business plan evaluation.

“The UCG is expanding to two projects next semester, allowing us to further our impact even more,” said Stephen Porcello, managing director. “I am very excited about the future and the numerous ways we will continue to grow and develop, and enhance our impact within the UConn community.”

The UCG is currently looking to recruit new members. If interested, please send an email with your resume to uconnconsultinggroup@gmail.com and a representative will get back to you with further details on the recruiting process.