Executives from the most financially successful U.S. sports league and one of the up-and-coming leagues will speak at the University of South Florida next week.
USF's Sport and Entertainment Management MBA Program will welcome Tod Leiweke, the Chief Operating Officer of the National Football League and Don Garber, Commissioner of Major League Soccer, to campus on Oct. 26.
While the evening is called "Football and Fútbol," program director Bill Sutton said the pair will have different stories to share.
"Tod will talk about a league that's established, but showing a little signs of decline in the media lately with TV ratings and a number of things, while Don Garber's going to talk about a league where they're going insane trying to get eight or nine different teams that want expansion franchises," Sutton said. "And so it'll be a nice contrast, but there will be a lot of similarities as well."
Sutton said there's many reasons for the NFL's ratings downturn, but he doesn't necessarily think the controversy over San Francisco 49er's quarterback Colin Kaepernick's kneeling during the National Anthem is as big a reason as some say it is.
"You have to look at the fact that for four weeks you didn't have (suspended New England Patriots QB) Tom Brady, (former Denver Broncos QB) Peyton Manning retired, you had a lot of players people were fans of and those guys weren't playing," Sutton said. "I'm not ready to push the panic button yet. I want to see if this trends again throughout this entire season, this has been five weeks. If it trends throughout the whole season and it starts into next season, then we had a trend. If it doesn't, then we had a blip."
Leiweke, who served as CEO of the Tampa Bay Lightning's parent company for five years, will speak at 5:30 p.m. on the 26th, while Garber will follow at 8 p.m.
Both events will be in the Sun Dome, and while admission is free and open to the public, reservations are necessary.