Sport Business Conference Main Speakers and Internship Luncheon Attendees

The following is a list of the professionals who will speak at this year's Pennsylvania Sports Business Conference:

Kevin Acklin

Kevin Acklin

President of Business Operations for Pittsburgh Penguins

Kevin Acklin is in his fifth season in the Penguins organization and his first as president of business operations after spending previous seasons as chief operating officer and general counsel with the Penguins. He oversees all business operations of the club and its affiliates, reporting directly to ownership at Fenway Sports Group. Acklin previously served as chief of staff to Mayor William Peduto, overseeing all day-to-day operations of the City of Pittsburgh.

Robert TurickRobert Turick

Assistant Director of Research - NCAA

Robert Turick is an assistant director of research at the NCAA. He serves as the research liaison to Division II and conducts research related to student-athlete academic success and student-athlete well-being. Prior to joining the NCAA, Robert was an assistant professor of sports administration at Ball State University, where he conducted research on diversity, equity, and inclusion in intercollegiate sports and student-athlete well-being. He has published multiple research papers in peer-reviewed journals, taught various sports administration/management courses, and engaged in high-level service within the academic field of sports administration/management. Robert received his PhD in sport management from the University of Florida, MEd in sport management from Bowling Green State University, and BS in sport administration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.


Mike Oberst

Mike Oberst

Director of Ticketing - PPG Paints Arena

Mike Oberst resides in Wexford, Pennsylvania. In spring 2006, Oberst graduated with a BS in physical education and sport with a concentration in sport administration from IUP. In spring 2008, Oberst graduated from Slippery Rock with an MS in sport management. With his first internship out of college, Oberst interned with the Baltimore Ravens as a stadium operations intern (summer 2008–spring 2009). After interning with the Baltimore Ravens, Oberst worked with the Rivers Casino, in the Players Club and with business marketing (fall 2009–fall 2012). He worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Penguins as a customer service representative. He worked with the CONSOL Energy Center as the box office manager (spring 2015–summer 2022). Currently, Oberst works with the PPG Paints Arena as the director of ticketing.

Zach Henderson

Zach Henderson

Director, Ticket Sales and Service - Indianapolis Colts

Zach Henderson, an IUP alumnus (’13) has moved around the sports industry. Currently working for the Indianapolis Colts as the director of ticket sales and service, Henderson has moved his way up the ladder with different positions in the sports industry. He started as IUP’s Sports Business Conference marketing intern (April 2010–May 2012). After graduating from IUP, Henderson started working for the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he held two positions for four years (June 2013–August 2017). Henderson moved on to working with the Washington Nationals as the manager of inside sales, then worked as the director of ticket sales. Henderson was with the Nationals for almost five years, which allowed him to be a part of the World Series win in 2018.

Drew Praster

Drew Praster

Senior Vice President of Ticketing - Pittsburgh Penguins

Drew Praster is the senior vice president of ticketing for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Drew began his career after graduating from Chowan University in 2008 as a sales representative for the Harrisburg Senators, an AA affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

Drew joined the Penguins in October of 2022. In his role, he is responsible for the largest portion of the organization’s revenue, accounting for season tickets, premium tickets and suites, groups, and single-game tickets, as well as renewing existing ticket holders. Before joining the Penguins recently, Praster spent 14 seasons in Charlotte with the Hornets. Drew initially joined Hornets Sports and Entertainment in September 2009 as an inside sales consultant and rose quickly through the ranks of the sales department. In May 2019, he moved into the role of vice president of ticket sales and services, overseeing the day-to-day operations of both the new business and client retention teams.

Derek Partsch

Derek Partsch

Director of Business Operations - Johnstown Tomahawks

Derek Partsch is in his fourth season as director of team operations for the Johnstown Tomahawks of the NAHL. He oversees the day-to-day business operations of the team, including all sponsorship and ticket sales. Prior to his current position, Derek served as sponsorships and group sales manager for two seasons. Prior to joining the Tomahawks staff, Derek worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates community relations department after his graduation from California University of Pennsylvania in 2010. In addition to this full-time job, Derek is a partner in an entrepreneurial venture, HomeTeam Graphix, in Johnstown.

“Be a good person” projects are also important to Derek. He co-founded his nonprofit organization, Second Chance Fundraising, in the spring of 2016 after his best friend received a life-saving heart transplant. To date, the organization has raised and donated over $150,000 to organ donation awareness initiatives in western Pennsylvania. 

Erika SiegelErika Siegel

Manager of Guest Experience at Acrisure Stadium - Pittsburgh Steelers

Erika just completed her first season as manager of guest experience with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Acrisure Stadium. She spent the previous five seasons with the Buffalo Bills, having worked in customer service and guest services. As manager of guest experience, Erika oversees all game-day guest services team members, manages the daily stadium tour operations, and leads a stadium operations intern development program.

She was a Division I athlete at Niagara University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in sport management and an MBA in strategic management. She serves on the Young Professionals Committee for the International Association of Venue Managers. Prior to her time with the Buffalo Bills, Erika worked in various capacities with Syracuse University, the Syracuse Crunch (AHL), and the Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission.

Michael KosnoskyMichael Kosnosky

Director of Athletic Facilities and Operations - Saint Francis

Mike Kosnosky is in his second year as director of athletic facilities and operations for SFU and oversees all scheduling of athletic practices, games, outside groups, and camps on campus as well as overseeing game operations for all sports and NEC championships held at SFU. He also is responsible for completing all maintenance and upgrades to the Stokes Athletic Center, DeGol Field, Stokes Soccerplex, and Red Flash Softball Field as needed. Kosnosky came back to Loretto after working as an athletics facilities specialist for Youngstown State University. At Youngstown State, Kosnosky was responsible for the setup and tear down of athletic events and outside group events in DeBartolo Stadium Club and McKay Auditorium. Kosnosky acted as an on-site facility and game manager for assigned sports and events such as women's soccer and women's volleyball. He also performed and recommended maintenance as needed on equipment at all Youngstown State facilities.

Before Youngstown State, Kosnosky was an athletic facilities and operations graduate assistant at Saint Francis University for two years. Kosnosky earned his master’s degree in education from Saint Francis University in May 2020.

Nate Bowen

Nate Bowen

Altoona Curve General Manager

Nate Bowen is entering his second season as the general manager of the Altoona Curve. He was promoted to general manager on October 6, 2021, becoming the youngest general manager in Altoona Curve history. Prior to that, Bowen served as the assistant general manager, director of ticketing, director of group sales, ticket account executive, and broadcast assistant, all with the Curve.

The 2023 season will be Bowen's fourteenth season working in professional baseball. He previously spent time with the Northwest Arkansas Natural (Kansas City Royals—AA affiliate), the Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays—AAA affiliate), and the Princeton Rays (rookie level—Tampa Bay Rays affiliate).

Nathan Brant

Nathan Brant

CEO - Pennsylvania State Alliance of YMCA

Nathan Brant began his service in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, as the director of YMCA Camp Thompson and Youth Services. Then he served as executive director of camping services for the Akron Area YMCA in Ohio. Most recently, Nathan served as the CEO of the South Mountain YMCA Camps for 13 years concluding in 2022.

While serving these three associations for over 20 years, Nathan has also taken a special interest in developing leaders in the camp community.  He has served as an ACA camp visitor for 20 years, has participated in AYP (now NYP), chaired the NE YMCA Camp Conference, presented at the 2019 YMCA Global Camp Conference, and has recently accepted a position on the Small and Mid-Sized YMCA Cabinet. He has coached sports for the Y and local recreation leagues focusing on swimming and soccer.

Christina Nellis

Christina Nellis

Human Resources Specialist - Pittsburgh Pirates

Christina has been with the Pittsburgh Pirates for 13 seasons. She started her career in 2010 when she obtained a guest relations internship. In 2011, she was a customer service representative. Christina moved into her first full-time role with the Pirates in 2012 as the cleaning operations coordinator. In 2016, she transitioned to the human resources team as a human resources specialist. She was promoted to her current role of HR generalist in 2019.

Christina graduated from IUP in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in sport administration. She is currently obtaining her master's degree from Saint Francis University in human resource management.

Michael McCormickMichael McCormick

Superintendent at Oakmont Country Club

McCormick transferred into UMass Amherst’s four-year plant, soil, and insect science program from Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2011. During his tenure at UMass, he completed internships at the International Golf Club in Bolton, MA; Oak Hill Country Club in Rochestery, NY; and Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, PA. Upon graduating from UMass, Michael accepted a full-time grounds maintenance role at Oakmont Country Club, where he worked up the ranks to a first assistant superintendent role in 2014. 

In fall 2022, Michael accepted his dream opportunity to return to Oakmont as their new grounds superintendent. Oakmont is currently ranked the fifth-greatest course in the country by Golf Digest and will host eight USGA championships between the 2025 US Open and 2049. In 2023, Oakmont will execute a master plan renovation of the golf course and infrastructure in advance of the upcoming championships. 


Scott MehallScott Mehall

Sports Analytics - Bloomsburg University

Scott Mehall is an assistant professor in the Department of Technology, Analytics, and Workforce Learning at Commonwealth University, Bloomsburg Campus. Scott teaches students in the IT analytics, MBA, and business education programs at Bloomsburg. He currently teaches a variety of business analytics-focused courses where students apply analytical techniques and methodologies to solve business problems. His research focuses broadly on technology for learning, including virtual and augmented reality, learning analytics, online learning, and alternative forms of online higher education. Scott is a graduate of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (2013 - Business Education, 2014 - MBA) and Robert Morris University's instructional management and leadership Ph.D. program.


Paul Schagar

Paul Schager

Executive Associate Athletic Director at Michigan State University

Paul is in his twenty-fifth year on the staff at Michigan State University. As the executive associate athletic director for external operations, Schager provides administrative oversight of the Sales and Marketing Office, which provides marketing and promotional support for all 25 varsity sports, the Spartan Ticket Office, and the Equipment Office. Schager is also responsible for managing external partnerships with Playfly (multimedia-rights agreement) and the Big Ten Network and is the primary contact for the school’s all-sport agreement with Nike. In addition, he is also responsible for brand management and acts as the primary liaison with university trademark licensing. He serves as a member of the department’s senior management group and reports directly to the director of athletics.