2020 Distinguished Service Award Recipient
Dallas Branch was an associate professor in the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences for 29 years. He taught undergraduate and graduate classes in sport marketing, sport management, sport promotion and sponsorship, and for 15 years, an innovative and first-of-its-kind ESPN Sports Poll graduate class. For twelve years, Branch served as the sport management program coordinator. For most of his teaching career, he managed the internship placement for graduate students, primarily in the Master of Science degree program. He managed and directed the recruitment and selection process for the graduate program. The program gained national recognition for its reputation within the sport management and marketing professions, achieving a ranking of 3rd nationally and 11 world-wide by Eduniversal, a business MBA discipline international rating service.
Some notable career highlights include the creation and founding in 1992 of the Sport Marketing Quarterly (SMQ), the first academic and professional sport marketing journal of its kind in the world. Branch served as editor until 1996 for this prestigious and internationally acclaimed professional journal, which is now read in 35+ countries. He received a “Top 20 in 20” Award for having one of the best 20 articles published in the SMQ in its first 20 years of publication. Branch also was a founding member and founding board member of the Sport Marketing Association in 2002, an international organization of sport marketing academicians and sport industry professionals. He was a four-time Teacher of the Year.
Branch was published and presented extensively both nationally and internationally during his career. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Sport Marketing Association in 2009. In addition, he received the Academic Achievement in Sport and Entertainment Award from the Sport Entertainment and Venue Management Association in 2017.
A former basketball and baseball player at UNC-Chapel Hill, High Volume Marketing Executive with the Xerox Corporation and vice president of marketing with the IHL’s Indianapolis Checkers Hockey Club, Branch brought what many felt was a unique and ideal background of sport, business and academics to the field of sport management and marketing. He retired as an associate professor emeritus faculty member in 2016.
He lives in Morgantown with his wife Jeannine. He has three stepchildren and six grandchildren, also in Morgantown.
2020 Outstanding Alumni
Kevin Elko was born November 23, 1958. He attended Brownsville High School in Brownsville, Pennsylvania.
Elko received his bachelor's degrees in Biology and Coaching Education from California University of Pennsylvania. While at West Virginia University, he completed a master's degree in counseling and sports psychology, a Graduate Certificate in gerontology, and a Doctorate in Education with a major emphasis in sports and counseling. He is also a certified addictions counselor. He later interned with the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs.
Elko is a nationally renowned performance consultant, professional motivational speaker, and author. He has consulted with numerous companies including: ING, Tyson Foods, Abbott Labs, LPL Financial, The Hartford, Genworth, Jackson National Life, Pioneer Investments, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Sun Life. In 2005, he was the highest rated speaker at the Million Dollar Roundtable, the conference for the insurance industry's highest achievers, with an audience of 6,000 attendees representing multiple insurance and financial services companies. He presents more than 200 times per year and has spoken in every state and internationally.
In the sports world, Elko has consulted with the University of Pittsburgh Athletic Department and football programs at the University of Miami, Rutgers University, University of Nebraska, Louisiana State University and University of Alabama. He has also consulted with professional teams including the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles.
Elko can be heard every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on ESPN Radio on Chris Mortensen's The Mort Report, providing The NFL Psychological Report. He is the author of four books, Nerves of Steel, The Pep Talk, True Greatness and his latest, Touchdown. The Pep Talk is in the process of becoming a motion picture. In 2011, Elko became a commentator and analyzer for the ESPN2 show, NFL 32. Each Friday, he shares his expertise on issues going on throughout the week with league personnel and teams.
In addition, Elko has received several awards over the years. He was inducted into the Brownsville Area High School Hall of Fame, the WVU College of Human Resources and Education Hall of Fame and received the Distinguished Alumni Award from California University of Pennsylvania.
Elko and his wife Karen reside in Presto, PA. They have two children, Claire and Jared.
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