For United States Sports Academy alumnus Chip Hunnicutt, a master’s degree from the Academy opened the door for him to turn his passion into his profession.
Hunnicutt – an avid outdoorsman and hunter – said his 1996 Master of Sports Science degree in sports management from the Academy led to a career in marketing the kinds of products he often used while pursuing outdoor sports.
“The greatest value the Academy has had for me has been the introduction to the business side of sports,” Hunnicutt said. “It helped me focus on a career path and led me in a direction I don’t believe I would have considered.”
Hunnicutt was recently hired as the director of marketing for Arcus Hunting, a holding company for some of the hunting industry’s leading brands. Arcus designs and manufactures products for the Tink’s, Dead Down Wind, Obsession Bows, RamCat Broadheads, Trophy Taker and Big Game Butter brands.
“What I like about working in the outdoors is that everyone can be a participant,” Hunnicutt said.
“Physical size doesn’t matter like it does in basketball, football or baseball; success is just as meaningful for a kid going squirrel hunting as it is for the grandfather who was there to see it happen. Like anyone, I want to sell as much as I can, but knowing the end result means a trophy buck, bear or elk for someone is awesome.”
Prior to joining Arcus, Hunnicutt handled licensed products for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and online projects for Performance Bike. He also handled marketing and advertising for Crosman Corporation, the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of airguns. He was also the creator of Trophy Score, an iPhone application used for scoring game animals according to official methods. The app is the only one of its kind approved by Boone & Crockett and the Safari Club International.
“I enjoy creative partnerships and that’s been the driver for me in the industries I’ve worked: professional sports, entertainment, consumer goods, real estate and outdoor,” Hunnicutt said. “I like understanding the consumer and how a product fits their needs or lifestyle, then partnering with individuals to create a compelling message and opportunity. The trick, I’ve found, is to believe in your product. It makes the process enjoyable and if you don’t enjoy what you do, what’s the point?”
Hunnicutt earned his bachelor’s degree in business from the College of Charleston. After earning his master’s at the Academy, Hunnicutt chose an internship helping manage the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).
“I chose the NFR and that turned into a full-time position in their properties division managing sponsorships. When the PRCA Commissioner chose to bring licensing in-house, he called me at home one Christmas to ask me to run it when I got back.”
While working for Crosman, Hunnicutt was the driving force behind the repositioning of the company’s once dormant Benjamin brand of airguns and airbows, a feat he considers one of his greatest professional accomplishments.
“Many of us grew up with a BB gun then moved on to firearms,” Hunnicutt said. “I was brought in at Crosman to help grow the business for large caliber, high powered airguns. We were incredibly successful and single-handedly drove change across the country for the legalization of airguns for large game. At the time of my departure, I was responsible for the promotion of, and leading the legal effort, for our revolutionary Airbow. I left that product on an upward trajectory and believe in its potential for states and the hunters who need a safer alternative to crossbows.”
Hunnicutt also once won the Marketing Innovation of the Year from Prudential Real Estate while working as the marketing director for a real estate company in the Carolinas.
“The agents were constantly asking about utilizing tech innovations like websites and podcasts,” he said.
“This was in the mid 2000’s and the internet boom was well under way. Podcasting was new and all the rage but the company did not want to invest in it. So, with the blessing of the CEO, I began selling listings in a podcast to our agents. They were 30 seconds, with photos and links. Prudential’s national office recognized this as cutting edge and I was awarded their Marketing Innovation of the Year award.”
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission Sports University created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.