Saint Peter’s Basketball Coach Shaheen Holloway Gives Us a Risk Management Lesson

By: | March 24, 2022

John (Jack) Hampton is a Professor of Business at St. Peter’s University, a core faculty member at the International School of Management (Paris), and a Risk Insider at Risk and Insurance magazine where he was named a 2018 All Star. He was Executive Director of the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS), dean of the schools of business at Seton Hall and Connecticut State universities, and provost of the College of Insurance and SUNY Maritime College in New York City.

On Monday, March 14, Saint Peter’s University appointed me as director of the sports management program. SPU upset Kentucky and Murray State in the NCAA basketball tournament a few days later.

My risk management dilemma is simple. I had absolutely nothing to do with the victories. Does this mean that I should not bask in the glory on campus and use it to advance myself?

I could talk to the local newspaper, or better yet, ESPN. With a bit of imagination, a simple coincidence could evolve into a story of how I shared my extensive sports knowledge with Coach Holloway. Together, we built a disciplined machine that took on behemoths and won.

In the off-season, we could tour the country as motivational speakers.

From a risk management perspective, this strategy poses weaknesses.

What if Coach Holloway lets others know that he never met me and did not even know my name? Or, what happens if my best friend from high school accidentally points out we mostly sat together on the bench watching our teammates play basketball?

The dilemma is easy to understand. Anytime we pursue an opportunity, we’re taking a risk. This hypothesis is visible in the three areas of risk management where I work:

  • Cyber Risk. This term refers to losses arising from failures of our widespread usage of interconnected digital technology. A hacker or computer malfunction shuts down our control systems. The disruption can cause consequences we never even considered.
  • Enterprise Risk. This term covers financial, strategic, and operational risks across an organization. A decision arises to develop a new product or enter an emerging market. What’s the upside? What’s the downside?
  • Higher Education Risk. This term deals with risks posed by changing technology and demographics. What changes are needed to mitigate negative impacts from declining enrollments and significant turbulence about the value of a college education?

Now the lesson from Coach Holloway. He came to Saint Peter’s in 2018. He identified a goal and the skills needed to achieve it:

  • Effective strategies in every aspect of the game.
  • Someone who can shoot 3-pointers.
  • Players who move, pass, and communicate under pressure.
  • Extra attention to defensive disruption of the other team.

Then, watch for the opportunity and take it.

Risk management lessons from sports can be helpful to other areas. We can give a “Holloway” view of a game with four minutes to play in regulation time.

  • Cyber Risk. We’re trailing by 10 points. To turn around the game, we need a stable and secure internet. Stop spam, scams, ransomware, and more.
  • Enterprise Risk. Some teams are leading by 20 points while others are lagging. Refill organizational ranks with skilled and motivated employees. Redesign the supply chain. Cooperate on environmental challenges.
  • Higher Education Risk. Face the reality of technology’s impact on the traditional model. Embrace new behaviors. A few teams are ahead while others are behind — some are far behind.

Enough of that for now. I have to check my email, texts, campus mailbox, and notes slipped under the door. You never know when Sports Illustrated needs to meet a deadline and the whole organization is waiting for a quote.

I know what I’ll say. “Go Peacocks.” &

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