NASCAR president Steve Phelps to headline Sport Management Symposium

The fourth annual event, held at Elon University’s School of Communications, will explore the theme of “Sport Sponsorship and Branding in the Digital Age,” and features two panel discussions delving into technology and social media use, as well as how college athletes are leveraging their name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights.

The fourth annual Elon Sport Management Symposium is set to return on Wednesday, April 19, and features a keynote conversation with Steve Phelps, president of NASCAR. In his role, Phelps oversees operations, competition and commercial endeavors for the largest auto racing organization in the United States.

In recent years, Phelps has been credited for being at the “forefront of stock car racing’s turnaround,” helping introduce the Next Gen car, one of the sanctioning body’s most ambitious projects. In addition, under his leadership, NASCAR was named Sports League of the Year by Sports Business Journal at the 2021 Sports Business Awards.

The symposium, which is free and open to the public, kicks off at 4:30 p.m. in the School of Communications’ Turner Theatre. To reserve your spot, visit the symposium’s Eventbrite page.

Following Steve Phelps’ keynote, the April 19 symposium will host a panel discussion titled “Technology and Social Media: New Paths for Sport Sponsorship.” Participants include Chris Bayly ’08 (pictured top left, then clockwise), Jake Horowitz, Kara Wagner ’16, G’17, and Lauren (Hoffmann) Street ’03.

During his opening keynote, Phelps will address topics relating to the symposium’s theme of “Sport Sponsorship and Branding in the Digital Age.” As president of one of the most popular sports sanctioning and operating companies in the world, Phelps is well positioned to offer insights on how sponsorships and branding have changed and will continue to evolve in today’s marketplace.

“NASCAR provides the ideal environment for sponsorship activation thanks to the most loyal and passionate fan base in sports,” Phelps said. “As our sport continues to grow, existing partners and new brands alike are seeing the increasing value proposition NASCAR offers in terms of fan engagement and activation – whether it be at the track, on television or through our digital and social channels.”

Associate Professor Cara Lucia, who chairs the Sport Management Department, noted Phelps’ insights will be invaluable to guiding the symposium’s conversation.

“Sponsorship and branding are so relevant in the sport industry to best leverage the athlete and sports teams,” she said. “Investing in these efforts increases visibility of a brand not only for the athlete and team but also through sporting events. We are delighted to have Steve Phelps as this year’s keynote to address the evolution of sponsorship and branding, while honing in on today’s hottest trends and forecasting the future.”

Following Phelps’ keynote, the symposium will shift gears to panel discussions, beginning with the “Technology and Social Media: New Paths for Sport Sponsorship” panel. Participants include Chris Bayly ’08, founder of Winstate Sports & Entertainment, Jake Horowitz, senior account manager at 160over90, Lauren (Hoffmann) Street ’03, senior director of marketing and business operations for Richard Childress Racing, and Kara Wagner ’16, G’17, manager of digital experience for the Baltimore Orioles. Lucia expressed excitement that the panel will feature multiple Elon alumni working and thriving in the sport industry.

“We love having our former students return to share their experiences in the industry,” Lucia said. “I know our current students will gain a tremendous amount of insight from their interactions with our alumni and will have an opportunity to network as well.”

Ericka Link ’24, a member of the Elon volleyball team, and Jon Seaton ’23, a defensive lineman for the Phoenix football team, will be featured participants in the symposium’s “The New World of NIL and College Athletes as Brands” panel.

A second panel, titled “The New World of NIL and College Athletes as Brands,” will feature two Elon student-athletes successfully leveraging their name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights. Jon Seaton ’23, a defensive lineman for the Phoenix football team, and Ericka Link ’24, a member of the Elon volleyball team, are both members of the WWE NIL “Next in Line” program. This collaborative partnership with the global entertainment company features 15 college athletes nationwide, helping them monetize their image and utilize WWE resources to build their personal brand.

Seaton, who has nearly two million followers on TikTok, received national media attention in February using his NIL deal to partner with Outback Steakhouse and the nonprofit organization Fighting Pretty to host a breast cancer charity event.

“Like our previous Elon sport management events, this year’s symposium has exceptional speakers, who will provide unique perspectives and insights on recent developments in sport sponsorship and branding,” said Bill Squadron, assistant professor of sport management. “Having Steve Phelps deliver keynote remarks will be especially educational given NASCAR’s leadership in this area.”

For more information regarding the 2023 Elon Sport Management Symposium, visit