How Aspire Changed College Sports

July 16, 2018

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Ten years ago, this new firm reimagined the way universities sold tickets. The principals recall how it started and the challenges along the way.

By Abraham Madkour, Executive Editor, SportsBusiness Journal

changed college sports

The Aspire Group got its start by selling tickets for Georgia Tech, where staff gathered recently for a photo. The firm has worked with 80 schools and has helped generate more than $1 billion in ticket and donation revenue over the past 10 years.

After nearly four years as CEO of the Atlanta Spirit ownership group, and mired in the politics of inner-ownership turmoil, Bernie Mullin was ready for a fresh start. At 59, he had another run in him and saw an opportunity to help pro teams navigate through mergers and acquisitions, ticketing and sponsorship. But a totally unexpected opportunity in college athletics changed the course for Mullin and his business partner, Bill Duffy, who were thrust into the position of re-imagining the way tickets were sold by universities. Now, 10 years later, The Aspire Group has worked with 80 schools and universities, helping programs generate more than $1 billion in ticket and donation revenue, while going head-to-head with well-funded competitors along the way. Mullin, Duffy and the group’s third employee, Bill Fagan, came to our Charlotte office and looked back at how they changed the sleepy college business and how training and people have made all the difference.

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