Smeal Case Competition

Home > Smeal Case Competition > Competition Information

Competition Information

Information on the Smeal Case Competition sponsored by Kohl's

Below is important information regarding the event:

General Rules

  • Students must be enrolled in the Smeal College of Business at the time of the application to the competition and at the time of the competition itself.

  • Electronic presentations are required.  Team deliverables are a jump drive with a PowerPoint presentation and a one page executive summary. Teams must use PowerPoint.

  • Presentation length is a maximum of 20-minutes followed by 10-minutes of Questions & Answers.

  • There will be no knowledge of the actual case until the case is distributed at the competition.

  • Teams will receive a copy of the competition case and will have only 24 hours to analyze it and present their ideas and solutions.

  • Once the case is picked up by the team, they will not be permitted to speak to their adviser until after their  presentation (except for emergencies).

  • The internet and publicly available information, including textbooks, are allowed to be used for research.

  • Teams must stay at The Nittany Lion Inn for the duration of the competition (with the exception of University Park teams on Saturday night following the competition).

  • All teams and all team members are required  to participate in all events surrounding the competition including attendance at the Kohl's Department Store Tour, the Welcome Dinner, Finals Luncheon, Finals Presentation and the Awards Dinner. No exceptions.

  • Students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times.


  • Teams will consist of four students.
  • There is not a limit on the number of teams that may apply from a single Student Organization.  Please do not name your team after your organization in order to avoid confusion.
  • All teams names should be appropriate.The Steering Committee reserves the right to request that a team change their team name in order to compete, if deemed necessary.
  • Each team must have an adviser present at the competition.  The adviser must be a Penn State faculty or staff member, but does not necessarily have to be a faculty or staff member from the Smeal College of Business.  All advisers are required to attend the Welcome Dinner, their Teams Presentation, Finals Luncheon, Finals Presentations and the Awards Dinner.

Presentation Draw Order

  • Teams will randomly draw a ticket to determine their group and presentation time.
  • There will be a total of 4 groups in the preliminaries, with 4 teams in each group.
  • The case distribution will be staggered so each team will be given an equal amount of preparation time. (i.e., if a team presents at 8:00am on Saturday, they will come to the control room to pick up their case at 8:00am on Friday.)

Case Preparation during the 24 hour analysis phase of the competition

  • There will be a control room in the hotel where teams will pick up a copy of the case at their assigned time slot.

  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner and a midnight pizza snack will be provided at the hotel during the 24-hour analysis phase of the competition.

  • Every team member, of every competing team, must check in with a competition committee member for every meal period, except the midnight pizza snack. No exceptions.

Preparation Pointers

  • Conduct background research on Kohl’s Department Stores and the retail industry.
  • Visit the Kohl's Department Store near your home when you are on break.  Talk to the Kohl's employees and people in the store.  If you know someone who shops regularly at Kohl's, talk to them about what they like or don't like.
  • Meet with your team adviser to discuss strategies, presentation skills, etc.
  • Practice analyzing a case ahead of time with your team and present it to your adviser.

Dress Code

  • The dress code for the Kohl's Department Store Tour and the Welcome Dinner will be business professional.
  • The dress code for the Friday night Eat~N~Roar Dinner will be business casual, Penn State colors.
  • The dress code for all other functions, including the presentations, will be business professional.
  • Name tags will be provided and should be worn throughout the competition.


  • Each team should bring at least one laptop to be used during the competition.
  • Internet access will be available at the hotel.
  • Flash drives will be provided to transport the team presentations and the executive summary.