Charles Nieves (Sport Admin. MS ’10)
A Passion for Sports off the Field & into the Business World
By Wes Faulkinberry (M.S. May 2017) – A desire to build deeper relationships and manage high valued accounts has led Charles Nieves to establish a career in corporate partnerships. The Georgia State University alumnus (Sport Administration M.S., ’10, MBA, ’15) is currently doing just that for Learfield Sports at Penn State University, where he is the Director of Business Development at Penn State Sports Properties. After receiving his master’s degree from GSU’s Sport Administration program in 2010, Charles secured and managed corporate partnerships for the University of Georgia Athletics and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America before moving to State College. Over the years, Charles dealt with numerous high profile corporate sponsors, including Bank of America, Toyota, The United States Marines, Buffalo Wild Wings, Pizza Hut, Proctor and Gamble. To add to his accomplishments, he received a MBA from GSU’s Robinson College of Business in 2015. He is also a proud member of the National Association of Black Sports Professionals, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and the National Black MBA Association. With his impressive resume, it is easy to see how much of a hard-working, strategic leader Charles is, but his passion for sports started long before he arrived in Happy Valley
A native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Charles grew up playing multiple sports, including football and basketball. He attended and played football at Fayetteville State University for three years, then transferred to the University of North Carolina at Pembroke for his senior year to play Division II football. As a starting senior wide receiver, his spot was taken by a freshman, which led to the realization that playing in the NFL was not an option. His next step was to further his education in sports marketing and management. Charles landed a great opportunity in the Sport Administration master’s program at Georgia State, which led him to his career in sports business.
“My year and a half of grad school helped me get a taste of what I liked and what I was passionate about, and that’s where I landed with corporate sales,” he reflected.
During his time at Georgia State, Charles interned with the WNBA in group sales and held a job at The Aspire Group doing ticket sales for Georgia Tech Athletics. At Georgia Tech, Charles met the biggest influence of his career — Bernie Mullin, the famed pioneer of the sport marketing industry and the CEO of The Aspire Group.
“One thing that Bernie Mullin told me was that there are sales in everything you do. Whether you are selling an idea, an opportunity, or the fact that someone should believe in you.” With this inspirational message and strategic networking, Charles took his first role in corporate partnerships at the University of Georgia’s Athletic Department in 2010. After two and a half years in Athens, he transitioned to the nonprofit sector, where he consulted and managed partnerships for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America in the Greater Atlanta area. In 2015, he made his return to the collegiate atmosphere as he accepted a job conceptualizing and activating corporate partnerships for Learfield Sports at Penn State University.
Looking back on his days at Georgia State University, what Charles appreciates most were his classmates and how interested they were in different parts of the sports industry.
“It wasn’t a bunch of individuals that were all chasing the same dream. It’s crazy just to see where everyone branched out to, but in hindsight that’s where everyone was going from the beginning because each of our interests was different. Everyone really had a goal of achieving their individual dreams, but collectively, through group work and great professors, we were able to get through graduate school”.
Charles’ advice for current graduate students trying to break into the sports industry is to “find what you love to do and what you’re passionate about, and just live and breathe it every day and you’ll never work a day life”. He also recommends to stay open minded, because even though your first couple of jobs might not necessarily be where you end up down the road, you will figure out what want and do not want to do.
Charles hopes to one day become an Athletic Director for a Power 5 college football team. His ability to establish and maintain relationships, as well as his passion for sports are key examples of how students can strive towards reaching their goals of establishing a successful career in the sports industry.