MSBL Mentor List

Mary Lee Gilliland

Gilliland, Mary Lee

Job Title: Lecturer, Advisory Board Member, and Mentor Principal, Madison Sports Partnerships.
Company: Seattle University, Albers School of Business and Economics Madison Sports Partnerships.
Industry: Sports and Entertainment
Mentor Since: 2018
Will Mentor: Graduate Students

Employment History

Mary Lee Gilliland serves as Lecturer, Advisory Board Member, and Mentor at Seattle University, Albers School of Business and Economics.  Previously, she was Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs and SWA at Seattle University Athletics with twenty NCAA Division I, athletic teams, competing in the Western Athletic Conference. She was responsible for strategic revenue development, multimedia marketing, advertising, corporate partnerships, fan engagement, television, radio, social media, communications, ticket sales, research analytics, game day experience, community engagement, licensing and merchandising.

Prior to the Redhawks, Gilliland was Managing Director at Madison Sports Partnerships (Madison Sports), a firm established to provide global strategic revenue development and property management for professional, collegiate and corporate organizations. Concurrently, Gilliland served on faculty and staff at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Illinois) as Executive Director and Lecturer for the College of Business and the College of Media and Advertising, where she created, launched and taught undergraduate and graduate programs. Gilliland also served on the Dean’s Core Curriculum Leadership Committee in the College of Business. While at Illinois, along with student-athletes, academic and industry leadership, Gilliland launched the annual Illinois Sports Business Conference.

Before Madison Sports and Illinois, Gilliland led national business development at Learfield Sports, the multimedia rights holder for more than 120 NCAA Division I FBS and FCS universities and conferences. She was responsible for corporate multimedia sponsorship sales, naming rights, licensing, marketing, entertainment, merchandising and corporate account management for U.S. collegiate properties, including Alabama, Oklahoma, Stanford, North Carolina, Clemson, Wisconsin, the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Learfield Directors’ Cup, and many more properties. This included the development of strategic advertising and marketing programs with corporate, media, valuation, licensing, institutional, athletic and agency partners across all media channels to meet corporate revenue and marketing objectives. As lead negotiator for partnerships with Allstate Insurance, MillerCoors and others, Gilliland was able to secure several of the largest national sponsorships in the company’s 40-year storied history.

Prior to Learfield Sports, Gilliland served as Managing Director for AAA, where she executed national marketing, brand and advertising initiatives across all business lines including insurance, financial services, membership acquisition and retention, travel, e-commerce, professional and collegiate sports, motorsports, automotive and national corporate partnerships. In this role, Gilliland oversaw AAA’s extensive sports and entertainment sponsorship reach which included the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, NASCAR, IRL, NHRA, more than 30 U.S. racetracks, and entertainment venues nationally.

Gilliland began her career in the National Football League with the Carolina Panthers, where she directed strategic marketing, communication and sales efforts to obtain the 29th NFL franchise and to raise $150 million in PSL sales to privately fund the team’s stadium. She was also a significant contributor for the league and a wide range of NFL teams for stadium, PSL and expansion efforts. Many projects included new revenue development and multimedia marketing for sports and entertainment venues and platforms.

Gilliland’s extensive global background also includes successful marketing and sponsorship management for high profile partners including Microsoft, Apple, ESPN, Coca-Cola, American Express, Walt Disney, McDonald’s, NBC Universal, State Farm Insurance, P&G, Bank of America, GE, IMG, Yahoo, BMO Harris Bank, Accenture, and many university, conference, agency and media alliances.

Gilliland is an annual speaker at the NFL Combine, SEME, SINC, ISBC, and NCAA IAC.  As a Visiting Lecturer, Gilliland also teaches at prestigious universities, including Georgetown, Stanford, Northwestern, and her alma maters, the University of Southern California (USC) and George Washington University (GW). Gilliland received her bachelor of arts degree from USC as a Dean’s Scholar and her Global MBA from GW as an International Merit Scholar.

Throughout her career, Gilliland has been committed to philanthropic causes and has served on the Board of Directors for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Paralysis Project of America, and the Gilliland Scientific Medical Fund, supporting pioneering research at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital to treat autoimmune diseases.


  • Bachelor of Arts - University of Southern California.
  • Global MBA - George Washington University.
  • Executive Education - Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management.
  • Certificate in Executive Education, Sports Management Institute - University of Michigan / University of Texas. 

Mentoring Objectives & Scope

Mentor and support students to help with their development, as they pursue their goals in education, work and in life.

When and where do you hold meetings with your students?

On or near campus.