Rick Burton

David B. Falk Endowed Professor

Rick Burton is the David B. Falk Endowed Professor of Sport Management in Syracuse University’s David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics.

During the last 20 years, his scholarly research and commentary has been published in Sport Marketing Quarterly, the International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, Journal of Applied Sport Management, Journal of Sport, Nine, SAIS Review, Marketing Management, Journal of Brand Strategy, Journal of Marketing Communications, Industrial Marketing Management, International Marketing Review, and Football Studies and Journal of Sponsorship, among others.

He serves as Syracuse University’s Faculty Athletic Representative (FAR) to the NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), teaches in Syracuse’s Renee Crown Honors Program and has served as a visiting professor at Kufstein Tirol University in Austria as well as the International Olympic Academy (IOA) in Olympia, Greece. He was selected as the Falk College Faculty Member of the Year for Teaching in 2011 and 2013.

Prior to his appointment at Syracuse in August 2009, Burton served as the chief marketing officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, where he directed the USOC’s partnerships for International Olympic Committee (IOC) and USOC sponsorship activation at the world’s largest sporting event.

From 2003-2007, Burton was the Commissioner of Australia’s Sydney-based National Basketball League (a two-continent league with teams in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore) and was responsible for every aspect of the NBL’s development and growth, including securing broadcast rights fees, naming rights, sponsorship, player and referee collective bargaining agreements and league profitability.

From 1995-2003, Burton led the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center to international prominence serving as both its director and executive director (1998-2003). During this time, he initiated Oregon’s engagement with Fudan University in Shanghai, China, and worked closely with Nike as it developed business efforts in China. While at Oregon, he created the Burton Marketing Group working in league management and sponsorship and over the next 20+ years consulted for entities such as IMG, Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Japanese Pro Soccer League (J-League), National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), Australian NBL, Visa, Oakland Raiders, FedEx, Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills, Professional Bull Riders, Sport Accord, and TSE.

From 1993-1995, Burton supervised numerous clients ranging from the NFL, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Gillette, Sprint and Universal Studios while serving as a vice president for the sports and entertainment marketing agency Clarion Performance Properties in Greenwich, Conn.

During his varied career, Burton has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Ad Age, Sports Business Journal, SI.com, Sport Business International, Sportico and Stadia. He has provided national radio network commentary for the Sporting News Radio Network and is in frequent demand as a commentator on the sports industry for the national and international media and for podcasts. A frequent conference host/moderator and inspirational/motivational speaker, Burton’s most recent engagements have included Intel, Chip Ganassi Racing (NASCAR and Indy Racing), the Association of Luxury Suite Directors and Real Salt Lake (MLS).

Burton began his career as a sportswriter in Syracuse before moving to Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee, where he worked for 12 years in brand management and sports public relations. He served as national advertising manager for Miller Lite’s award-winning “Less Filling – Tastes Great” advertising campaign.

Burton has written two books on sports marketing as well as “20 Secrets to Success for Student-Athletes Who Won’t Go Pro” and “Forever Orange,” which highlights Syracuse University’s 150 years. He is the co-author of the textbook “Global Sport Marketing: Sponsorship, Ambush Marketing And The Olympic Games” and in 2016 finished a book for SU Press on his collected opinion columns from Sports Business Journal titled “Sports Business Unplugged: Leadership Challenges from the World of Sports.” He is currently working on a new book, a documentary and a feature film involving basketball.


Master of Business Administration, Marquette University, 1991

Bachelor of Science, Syracuse University, 1980


Sports Marketing; Sponsorship and the Olympic movement; Professional League Management; Fantasy/Video Gaming; Sport in Literature, the NCAA


SPM 225 - Managing the Sport Organization

SPM 300 - ESport Management

HNR 340 - Honors: Baseball and American Culture

Recent Publications

  • Burton, R. (2021), “The Next NCAA Rights Fight Should be for Para-Sport Athletes”, Sportico.com, August 5, Found at: NCAA Rights for Athletes With Impairments Should Be Next Reform Fight; Sportico.com
  • Burton, R. and O’Reilly, N. (2021), “How can we grade this unusual Olympics?”, Sports Business Journal, August 2-8, Vol. 24, No. 17, page 23.
  • Burton, R. (2021), “Where will esports take us by 2030?”, SportBusiness, July 6
  • Burton, R. and O’Reilly, N. (2021), “Follow the puck to more cross-promotional business”, Sports Business Journal, June 21-27, Vol. 24, No. 12, page 28.
  • Gawrysiak, J., Burton, R., Jenny, S. and Williams, D. (2020), "Using Esports Efficiently to Enhance and Extend Brand Perceptions", Physical Culture and Sport. Studies and Research, Issue 86, 1-14.
  • Burton, R. (2021), “Tokyo’s Pandemic Olympics Raises Thorny Moral, Business Issues”, Sportico.com, June 10
  • Burton, R. (2020), "Start-up Success: The Story of POINT 3 Basketball CEO Michael Luscher and the Future of Entrepreneurship", Sport in Society.
  • Burton, R. (2020), "Mark Twain: Baseball's First OG", Nine, Vol. 27, No. 1-2.
  • Burton, R. (2020), "Op-Ed: Franchise values always appreciate but maybe not for much longer", The Athletic, May 21.
  • Burton, R. and O'Reilly, N. (2020), "Could COVID-19 kill a long-standing sports league?", Sports Business Journal, July 27-August 2, Vol. 23, No. 16, page 25.
  • Burton, R. and O'Reilly, N. (2020), "The return from COVID-19: How can organizations protect themselves", Sports Business Journal, June 29-July 5, Vol. 23, No. 13, page 24.
  • Burton, R. and O'Reilly, N. (2020), "Let's be honest on 'new normal'", Sports Business Journal, May 25-31, Vol. 23, No. 8, page 25.
  • Burton, R. and O'Reilly, N. (2020), "Fan bases are shifting under a demographic wave of esports", Sports Business Journal, April 20-26, Vol. 23, No. 3, page 36.
  • Burton, R. and O'Reilly, N. (2020), "It's time to 'glocalize' team thinking", Sports Business Journal, March 16-22, Vol. 22, No. 47, page 16.
  • Forever Orange: The Story of Syracuse University, Pitoniak, S. and Burton, R., Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, N.Y. November 2019.
  • The Sport Business Handbook: Insights From 100+ Leaders Who Shaped 50 Years of the Industry, (2019), Horrow, R., Burton, R. and Schrag, M., Editors; Foreword by Krzyzewski, M., Human Kinetics, Champaign, Ill.
  • Burton, R., Hirshman, J., O'Reilly, N., Dolich, A. and Lawrence, H., (2018), 20 Secrets to Success for NCAA Student-Athletes Who Won't Go Pro, Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio.
  • Burton, R. and O’Reilly, N. (2017), “Intriguing situation setting up for Formula One in the U.S.”, Sports Business Journal, May 22-28, Vol. 20, No. 6, page 14.
  • Burton, R. and O’Reilly, N. (2017), “A look Down Under shows special strategy in launching a league”, Sports Business Journal, April 17-23, Vol. 19, No. 50, page 34