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Braving the Outback

Apr 3, 2015
by Tom Iacuzio, '06

Kevin Smith, ’85, was working as a contract manager for the Tampa Electric Company when he first got involved with local sports. After 26 years in the industry, Smith was recently named chairman of the board for one of Florida’s biggest college sporting events, the Outback Bowl.

Smith got his start in Tampa where he served as a board member for the Tampa Downtown YMCA. After leaving Tampa Electric in 1997, Smith took a job in Pinellas County to develop a model for a sports commission.

“I’ve now been with the St. Petersburg Clearwater Sports Commission for 15 years and have been the director of the organization since 2006,” said Smith, who graduated from Flagler College with a degree in Business Administration.

Under his leadership, the commission created $29 million dollars in economic impact for Pinellas County in 2014 with more than 82,000 visitors coming to the area for sports tourism events.
It was this type of leadership that led him to be selected to the top position of the Outback Bowl, a college football game that is typically played on New Year’s Day at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium featuring teams from the Southeastern and Big Ten Conferences. The game has generated an estimated $1 billion in economic impact for the Tampa Bay region over its 25-year history.

“After more than 26 years of working as a volunteer, team selection member and chair, board member and executive committee member, it was an honor to be selected by my peers to be chairman of the board,” said Smith. “It was exciting to be able to represent the game at conference meetings of the SEC and Big Ten, as well as the conference championship games.”

Now that this year’s game, which saw the Wisconsin Badgers in a classic overtime win against the Auburn Tigers, is over, Smith says there is still a lot of work to do.

In addition to his Outback Bowl duties, Smith will also continue his work as the chairman of the National Association of Sports Commissions, the governing body for sports commissions across the country.

“I’m working with Olympic Gold Medalist Michele Smith to present to the Confederation of European Baseball and Softball organization in Dublin, Ireland in February. We will be hosting the North American Sailing Championships here, as well as two sailing World Championships and Olympic Qualifiers in 2016. And I travel to Brazil again this summer to meet with the Minister of Sports for Sao Paulo for hosting and coordinating sports teams and travel prior to Rio 2016,” said Smith. “So as you can see I stay pretty busy.”

Smith is also one of the founders of the NASC Sports Legacy Fund, which donates equipment to not-for profit organizations that provide individuals, particularly at-risk youth, veterans, or physically or intellectually disabled individuals, opportunities to participate in sport and encourage healthy lifestyles.

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