For Jarett Gerald, graduating from the University of South Carolina was just the beginning of his career in college athletics. After a successful college career as a competitive athlete and student in one of the nation's best sport and entertainment management degree programs, he has gone on to become a collegiate athletics business leader. His resume highlights include positions with the University of South Carolina Men's Basketball team, the NCAA and his current position as associate director of administrative operations at Duke University. The College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management caught up with the two-time sport and entertainment management alumnus to hear how his experience at the University of South Carolina impacted his life and career in college athletics.
Please share a summary of your career path.
I spent four years as a track and field student-athlete at the University of South Carolina majoring in sport and entertainment management. Upon graduation, I went and worked at NASCAR and Octagon. I then returned to UofSC to be a graduate assistant with the men’s basketball team while earning my Master of Sport and Entertainment Management degree. I then spent the next five seasons serving as special assistant to Head Coach Frank Martin, where I managed his day-to-day operations. This included all on-campus recruiting, campus housing, community outreach and marketing initiatives for the South Carolina men’s basketball program. I left South Carolina in 2020 to take a role working in Division III governance at the NCAA. In this role I served as a liaison for various NCAA committees engaging with university presidents, athletic directors, conference commissioners and student-athletes. During my time at the NCAA, I was able to connect with the incoming director of athletics at Duke University, Nina King. My past experiences serving as special assistant at UofSC made me a prime candidate for my current role as associate director of administrative operations for Duke University Athletics. In this role I manage all of Nina King’s day-to-day operations, internal and external communications, and execute any other duties she assigns.
What do you like most about your current role / career?
My role gives me a front row seat to the day-to-day of a Power 5 director of athletics. I get first-hand exposure to how decisions are made at the highest level and get a chance to play a role in those decisions. The opportunity to see how a director of athletics molds a department to create a meaningful and enriching academic experience, while also providing opportunities for competitive success — to win conference and national championships — continues to be one of the most rewarding parts of my career.
Was there a particular experience or person who has been influential in your career?
There are so many experiences that I could mention — from being on the Gamecock men’s basketball staff during our run to the Final Four, going to Coach K’s final game in Cameron Indoor Stadium against UNC, having a one-on-one meeting with Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, or competing in the SEC track and field championships. All these experiences, along with many more, have shaped my career. They have given me incredible stories to share with others and given me firsthand insight on how the collegiate enterprise works!
Can you share a favorite, proudest or most memorable experience from your career journey?
The proudest of my career was being asked to give a presentation at South Carolina Athletics SPURS UP event. SPURS UP or Seniors — Prepared, United and Ready is an event for senior student-athletes at UofSC. I was asked to present on vulnerability and how helpful / important it is to be OK with being vulnerable. It was great to be able to give back to a place that has done so much for me academically, professionally and personally.
How has your experience at UofSC impacted your career success?
Attending the University of South Carolina has been the most influential experience of my career. My time at UofSC allowed me to compete at the highest level of collegiate athletics, providing me with undergraduate and graduate opportunities. It also provided me with my first full-time professional opportunity. The University of South Carolina has been the most important asset in my career, and I am extremely grateful for the experience.
Was there a particular class or topic that is instrumental in your job today?
It’s hard to pick specific classes but my professors Tom Regan, Frank Roach and Steve Taylor really stressed one thing — get involved. Whether it was volunteering for the SEVT conference, attending the various executive sport seminars on campus, or taking on internships across the country — those professors always stressed the importance of getting involved with as many experiences as I could. It has made my professional skill set versatile and allowed me to grow my network exponentially. This has been extremely important in my current role. Collegiate athletics is a small industry, and everyone is connected. Also, my various work experiences have taught me how to solve problems for a wide array of issues. It has been extremely fulfilling and I am so grateful for my professors’ guidance throughout my career.
What advice would you give to a prospective student considering a career in sport management?
Treat your professional relationships like your personal ones. When developing your professional network / relationships treat them how you would treat a friend. Really take the time to learn about their families, where they are from, their educational background, their interests / hobbies, talk to them on a consistent basis, or even invite them to your home if you feel comfortable! People are so receptive to genuine people. Every successful professional relationship I’ve had has only been enhanced after I get to know the person on a personal level. It has led me to creating deep and meaningful friendships along the way.
Anything else you would like to add?
The best career advice I have received is whenever you join a new organization, move to a new area, meet a new group of people ... whatever it may be — find out the top 5 / 6 individuals in that group/ area / organization that “move the needle” and get to know them. Find out who the decision makers are or the individuals with the most influence and develop a relationship with them. It will do wonders for your career!