Olympian, Football Star, Sports Marketer

Wherever his endeavors on the track and the football field take him, Devon Allen plans to pursue a career in sports marketing.

STORY BY TIM CHRISTIE | VIDEO BY CHARLIE LITCHFIELD


Devon Allen is having a moment.

The third-year business major is in Rio de Janeiro preparing to race the 110-meter hurdles and aiming to bring some Olympic hardware back to Eugene—just in time to swap his track singlet and spikes for football pads and a helmet.

Allen’s athletic future is bright, if uncertain—will he pursue a professional career jumping hurdles on the track or catching passes on the football field?

Either way, he’s learning the business of sports marketing and how to market himself as a potential big time professional athlete.

Allen—a three-time Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention—is enrolled in the James H. Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, part of the Lundquist College of Business. Founded in 1993, the Warsaw Center is the country’s first sports business program housed in a business college.

“Being able to market myself as an athlete is something I’ve kind of been learning,” he said. “Being such a sports fan and loving sports so much, it’s something I feel I could see myself doing my whole life.”

When he thinks of a career beyond being a professional athlete, Allen said he’d like to do “anything in sports.”

“Storytelling interests me. I like product design too,” he said. “I wanted to do business and journalism, and I want to be an art major too. It’s hard to fit all that in, especially with two sports.”

Devon Allen on the track at Hayward Field

Devon Allen studying in the Lillis Business Complex

Devon Allen playing football / Photo by Eric Evans/GoDucks.com

Devon Allen wins the 100-meter hurdles at the US Olympic Team Trials / Photo by Eric Evans/GoDucks.com

Allen, from Phoenix, Arizona, has twice won the NCAA championship in the 110 hurdles and twice has been the USA Track & Field champion in the event. On the football field as a wide receiver, he led the Ducks as a freshmen in 2014 with seven touchdown passes before suffering a knee injury while returning the opening kickoff in the 2015 Rose Bowl vs. Florida State.

He was forced to sit out the 2015 track season, and struggled to return to form last fall on the football field, but excelled during the 2016 track season, winning a second NCAA championship and the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 110-meter hurdles. He’s planning to hit the ground running on the football field upon his return from Rio.

Whitney Wagoner, director of the Warsaw Center, said she “absolutely loves” having student-athletes like Allen in the sports marketing program.

“They tend to be our strongest students,” she said. “They are leaders, they are well organized, they are disciplined, they are hard workers, they know how to balance priorities.”

Those skills translate directly to being an excellent student, she said. And having star athletes in business classes helps bridge the divide that sometimes exists between student-athletes and the rest of the student body, she said.

“It humanizes athletes in a very terrific way,” she said.

To see Allen succeed at a high level in his athletic endeavors is “really pretty inspiring and amazing,” Wagoner said.

“He’s a real impressive young man,” she said. “His get-it-done attitude, work ethic and dedication will serve him well in what ever he decides to do.”

“People who are charismatic, who inspire other people around them, and can be lead by example, that’s what makes you successful on an athletic team, and that’s what’s going to inspire in a professional environment, and people want to be around someone like that,” she said. “It raises everyone’s game.”


Images of Devon Allen winning the U.S. Olympic Trials and playing football are courtesy of Eric Evans/GoDucks.com.

 
Devon Allen outside of the Lillis Business Complex