Students Tour UNC, Network with CSL Alumni

On a brisk and sunny February morning, CSL students definitely were not expecting a casual hello from UNC Basketball star Tyler Zeller, or to watch basketball legend Tyler Hansbrough shoot some hoops in the Dean E Smith Center. Each year, current Center for Sport Leadership (CSL) graduate students get the opportunity to visit UNC and go on a behind the scenes tour of the breathtaking athletic facilities, listen to knowledgeable guest speakers working in college athletics, and expand their networks.


From the Carolina Basketball Museum to Carolina Basketball’s locker room and team lounge, CSL students saw it all, led by tour guide and CSL alum Eric Hoots, Director of Player Development/Assistant to the Athletic Director at UNC. Hoots shared his story and offered advice on how to make it in the sports industry. Hoots is a true Tar Heel through and through, having attended UNC as an undergrad and worked as a Tar Heel varsity basketball manager all four years, his last being appointed head manager for Coach Roy Williams’ first season as head coach.


Hoots told CSL students how valuable his time in the CSL was as a distance learner. “I gained so much perspective in my classes hearing from coaches at Division III schools, coaches from William and Mary… I never left Carolina so it was nice to hear outside perspectives.”


After touring the Carolina Basketball Museum, Hoots led the group to the Dean E. Smith Center where students got an inside look at the Carolina Men’s Basketball locker room and player lounge, equipped with a ping pong table, basketball arcade game (what is this called again???), and couches over nine feet long.  


The next stop was the middle of the court inside the Smith Center, where Hoots said his goodbye and CSL students were able to take plenty of photos. Following the tour, CSL students got the opportunity to discuss and ask questions to a group of four panelists working at UNC, three of who were CSL alums:


-        Tim Smith: Associate Executive Director of Major Gifts

-        Ashley Usera: Associate Director, Ticket Operations, CSL ‘13

-        Mike Greene: Associate Director, Academic Support Program, CSL ‘09

-        Alieh Shaban: Ticket Operations Assistant, CSL ‘18


This valuable Q&A ended with some quick networking and last-minute words of wisdom from Smith. “You’ve got to be competitive. Whatever job you get, whether you’re at the bottom or not, do that job to the best of your ability. Be better than anyone else, and someone will notice.”


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