Athlete’s other pitch: Businesses giving back

By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer

An Eastern New Mexico University Greyhound baseball player will deliver pitches on the mound this spring before making a pitch of a different sort at a business conference in Chicago.

Sophomore Justin Cotten’s paper on social responsibility in the corporate world was a winner in the second annual College of Business Fall Business Research Competition. Cotten will deliver his presentation, which took first place out of all papers ENMU business students submitted in mid-March.

“It’s about social responsibility as far as what companies should do to be socially responsible to help the world,” Cotten said. “It’s demonstrated by the top five companies right now — Wal-Mart, Exxon-Mobile, Chevron (for example). Those companies demonstrate that social responsibility is profitable.”

“Profit and philanthropy aren’t mutually exclusive anymore,” Cotten continued. “Companies that do both of these are the companies that are the most successful.”

This may not sound like a typical college pitcher.

Cotten is a transfer to ENMU from Eastfield Junior College in Dallas.

“Obviously, we’re very happy about his opportunity in the business department,” Greyhound baseball coach Phil Clabaugh said.

Cotten said Clabaugh made clear to the entire team where the priorities of academics and athletics should be in relation to each other.

“Coach Clabaugh outlined it the first day of practice,” Cotten said. “Our priorities are academics, athletics and then our social life. Academics have to come first, above everything.”

“They’re called student-athletes for a reason,” Clabaugh said. “That means student comes before athlete. That’s part of our job as educators, is to make sure that they understand the proper order.”

Clabaugh said Cotten has one of the best pitching arms he’s seen put on the green and silver, but his talent in the business world may serve him better than his skills on the baseball diamond.

“For me, it wasn’t even a question,” Clabaugh said. “Regardless of what he does on the field, more than likely, that degree that he’s going to get in business is going to be a hell of a lot more valuable to him than his time on the field here at Eastern.”

According to Cotten, he plans on flying back before an ENMU series against Angelo State, and it’s possible he may not miss a single start on the mound.

“If he does miss (any) games, how in the hell do you take away a trip that he’s going to remember for the rest of his life, that he’s earned because of his expertise in the classroom?” Clabaugh asked.

Between baseball and business, Cotten is sure to have a busy March.

“I’ll be nervous, but it’s an honor because I get to represent Coach Clabaugh and all of my baseball teammates,” Cotten said. “It’s nice to see academics being represented in our program.”