Young Achievers

Melcolm Ruffin

A Chicago native, Melcolm graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a degree in Sport Management in 2013. After internships with Octagon’s basketball division and the Philadelphia 76ers’ front office, Melcolm landed a spot in the NBA’s Associate Program. In this year-long rotational program he gained experiences working within four departments: the NBA Development League, Digital Products, Basketball Operations and Global Marketing Partnerships. Since finishing the year of rotations Melcolm has been working permanently as the primary liaison between the NBA D-League and Global
Marketing Partnerships, involved with current marketing partner activations, new business, and global media.


1) What is your best advice for students trying to enter the sponsorship world?


My #1 piece of advice is to soak up as much information as you can. There are tons of resources available – like Sports Business Daily/ Journal, Cynopsis Sports newsletter and The Sponsorship Space – that make it easy to follow the most recent industry news and trends. In sports, it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest sponsorship deals or else you’re at a disadvantage. Reading consistently helps you learn about different brand strategies, activations, and ways to structure deals. Eventually, once you have an understanding of the space, you’ll be able to think of your own prospects and create unique sponsorship platforms. I know that it can sometimes be challenging to make time to “do your homework”, but I really think it’s the best way to grow comfortable with the industry and learn the sponsorship landscape.


2) Outside of your brand, who do you think is setting the standard in corporate partnerships?


From a property standpoint, I’ve been really impressed by what the MLS has done within the last year. They have been able to land huge deals with major brands like Heineken and Etihad Airways that are committed to soccer globally, but are just now investing heavily in U.S. soccer. What’s most impressive are the deals with Chipotle and, most recently, Audi – two coveted brands that have growing market share but hadn’t previously committed to large national sports sponsorships. I think the MLS has been great at prospecting beyond the usual suspects that spend big money on sponsorships and they’ve built valuable platforms for their partners. You’ve got to respect what they’ve done to build up a strong roster of


3) Who is your favourite athlete of all time?


I’m from Chicago but I’ll avoid the obvious choice of Michael Jordan. Instead I’ll go with Magic Johnson. Growing up I really loved watching his old games because of the creativity he showed on the court. He played with a contagious joy and love for the game, but at the same time he was one of the most competitive players that has ever played the game. I think he’s the G.O.A.T. at making his teammates better.

Melcolm Ruffin

Job: Associate Coordinator, Business Development

National Basketball Association

Education: University of Massachusetts

Age: 23 years old