The Southeastern Conference Wants to Be Known for More Than Football

Photograph by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Traditionally, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is known for its dominance in athletics, particularly on the football field, boasting that its members have won the last seven national championships. Now the deans who represent each of the SEC business schools are hoping to make a similar impact with their MBA programs by bringing this competitive spirit to the classroom.

Last weekend the conference’s 14 member schools participated in the first annual SEC MBA Case Competition, hosted in Columbia, Mo., by the University of Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business, as part of the conference’s academic initiative. Each of the SEC member schools (see list of SEC members below) sent a team of four students to take part.

The three-day event came about at the urging of Missouri Dean Joan Gabel after her school joined the SEC in 2012. Gabel had experience with similar competitions as a member of the Big 12 conference, and her administrative team felt it was a good opportunity for the SEC. “It offers our students a competitive environment where they can learn from industry partners in real time about what they’re facing,” she says. “It’s also great for us to network across schools at the administrative level. I think all of our schools are better for it.”

In the competition itself, each team was given 21 hours to develop a solution to an actual real-time business problem presented to them by the competition’s sponsor, AT&T.  (Gabel says she could not disclose the nature of the problem.) A panel of corporate executives and academics judged each team’s proposal. The team from the University of Florida won the $10,000 first prize, with the teams from Arkansas and Texas A&M placing second and third.

The 2014 SEC MBA Case Competition is tentatively scheduled for mid-April of next year and will be hosted by the University of Alabama. Similar competitions are hosted annually by other NCAA conferences, including the Big Ten and the Big 12.

SEC Member B-Schools
University of Missouri’s Trulaske College of Business
Alabama’s Manderson Graduate School of Business
Arkansas’ Walton Graduate School of Business
Auburn’s College of Business
Florida’s Hough Graduate School of Business
Georgia’s Terry College of Business
Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics
Louisiana State’s Ourso College of Business
Mississippi’s School of Business Administration,
Mississippi State’s College of Business

South Carolina’s Moore School of Business
Tennessee’s College of Business Administration
Texas A&M’s Mays Business School
Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management

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