News

Next Play Competition Uses Sport to Inspire Sustainability

by Bill Giduz

The conclusion of the NCAA basketball tournament this year is heralding the beginning of a new annual intercollegiate tournament sponsored by Davidson College. The first annual sustainability in sports venture tournament, called "The Next Play," will be held on campus April 10-12, and give "Big Dance" schools another opportunity to be winners.

The event seeks to use the wide-reaching influence of sports to inspire progress in sustainability. Eleven teams of one-to-four members from nine institutions are bringing entrepreneurial business plans concerning sustainability and sports to present to panels of judges throughout the weekend. The judges will hear the teams' pitches and award scores that will determine who goes on to the next round. Those who survive six rounds and emerge as winners on Sunday afternoon will share $35,000 in prize money and in-kind support.

The prizes are being provided by event sponsors Duke Energy, Ingersoll Rand and Project for Innovation in Energy and Sustainability, with additional support from Green Sports Alliance and the National Resources Defense Council.

Davidson's Sustainability Director Jeff Mittelstadt and Sustainability Coordinator Marcus Carson sent invitations to all 130 schools whose men's and/or women's team made this year's NCAA Tournament. The nine schools accepting the invitation are UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke, Wisconsin, Memphis, Idaho, Arizona State, Purdue, Oklahoma State and the University of Texas. Two of the schools are sending two teams each.

The Pitch

Teams will make 10-minute presentations of their business plan to the judges, just as if they were making a pitch for venture capital funding. The contest regulations stipulate that the plans encompass sustainability and sports in the areas of facilities, products and non-profit initiatives. They also should meet the "triple bottom line" of sustainability-social equity, environmental integrity and economic prosperity.

Some of the pitches expected to be submitted concern wind energy, turf grass management, childhood obesity, use of bicycles to stimulate economic growth and decreasing team travel.
The 40 volunteer judges represent more than 20 organizations, including private companies, nonprofits, government agencies, and private equity and venture capital firms.

In addition to the competition, meal breaks during the event will feature remarks from five sports, sustainability and business leaders-Steve Sorrano, Senior Equities Analyst at Calvert Investments; Brett Dioguardi '07, Sustainability Coordinator at Chipotle Mexican Grill; Maryanne McGowan, Strategy & Implementation Manager at Duke Energy; Andrew Lovedale '09, President & Founder of Access to Success; and Henry McKoy, Founder of Fourth Sector Financial Corp.

Davidson students also will be invited to attend a networking reception with judges and program administrators on Thursday evening.

For more information, call Mittelstadt at 704-894-3029.