Throughout his illustrious career as a sport marketing practitioner, Dr. Bernie Mullin has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to sport marketing education and providing opportunities for the next generation of sport marketing practitioners. This award exemplifies the very spirit of Dr. Bernie Mullin by recognizing sport organizations that have also demonstrated an exemplary commitment to sport marketing education.


Inaugural Mullin Awardee:
The Aspire Group

The Aspire Group is a global sports and entertainment firm partnering with clients to maximize revenue, people, and organizational performance. As industry leaders, The Aspire Group creates what it refers to as "Next-Practices", or the best practices for tomorrow. The Aspire Group provides ongoing strategic advice and support in implementing and maintaining innovative marketing, sales, management and operational systems. Through the implementation of "Next Practices", The Aspire Group is continuously raising industry standards, supporting programs and systems with training, development, and coaching to produce industry leaders, excellent employees, and winning teams, giving clients an unassailable advantage over the competition.



One of the goals of the Sport Marketing Association is to bridge the gap between the sport industry and the academy. The purpose of the Mullin Award is to recognize a sport marketing practitioner or organization which has partnered with an academic program of an SMA member in a way which provides students with unique and exceptional educational opportunities, helping connect them to the sport industry and advance their career. This award honors an individual or organization which has made exceptional contributions in one or more of the following areas:

  1. Education: Brings real world sport marketing experience into the sport marketing classroom and education (e.g., teaching seminars, classes, writing case studies or textbook chapters, etc.)
  2. Experiential Opportunities: Provides experience-based opportunities for the next generation of sport marketing practitioners (e.g., experiential learning, volunteer, internships, or graduate assistantship opportunities)
  3. Research: Contributions in sport marketing research (e.g., collaborative work with sport marketing faculty on marketing based research projects)
  4. Networking: Excellence in connecting students with industry professionals (e.g., utilizes its own resources to create a symbiotic relationship between industry and sport marketing students via networking opportunities, job fairs, etc.)


Any marketing professional or sport organization having a strong relationship with a university where SMA members work is eligible to be nominated for the Mullin Award.


Nominations to receive the Mullin Award should be submitted by current SMA members no later than June 1, 2018. To nominate a candidate for consideration, an individual should submit a document (4 pages single space maximum) outlining the history and collaboration between nominee and the academic program. This letter should describe the relationship, as well as any projects or collaborations, conducted between the nominee and students. The nomination letter should also provide detail of positive outcomes stemming from the collaboration.  Nomination letters are not required to, but may, include materials evidencing the partnership such as sample projects, portfolios, websites, photos, videos, etc. 

Nominees who do not receive the Mullin Award will be considered for two (2) years after their first nomination. Past nominees will be asked by a member of the SMA Awards Committee if they wish to be considered again and, asked if they wish to re-submit updated materials.

Nominations should be submitted as one PDF file to Dr. Beth Cianfrone, Member at Large for the SMA, at


Members from the SMA Awards Committee will evaluate candidates based on the criteria listed above. The committee's Chair will notify the SMA Executive Board of their recommendation no later than June 22, 2018. This selection will then be voted on by the SMA Executive Board. Upon approval, the award winner will be notified of their selection. The Mullin Award will be formally presented to the winner at the Awards Banquet of the 2018 SMA Conference in Frisco, TX. The Mullin Award winner will have the option to present on the partnership during the conference. 

Nominations, questions, or comments regarding the awards process can be emailed directly to Dr. Beth Cianfrone, Member at Large for the SMA, at


2017 - The Aspire Group