Studying Sports Management in College

What Sports Management Entails + Top Sports Management Programs in the U.S.

Thinking about majoring in business, and happen to be a sports fan? The field of sports management could stand out to you in regards to a potential career path. Sports management involves the planning, organizing, budgeting, and marketing for different areas of the sports industry. Sports managers handle the business side of sport games, which might mean running the budget of a large arena or maintaining personal connections with some high profile players. 

Top Sports Management Programs

A good college sports management program will include professional training along with the basic knowledge of kinesiology and business theory. A stellar program should also do a good job of preparing students for the real world and get them connected with some post-grad work opportunities. Continue reading to check out the top 6 colleges currently in sports management!

Florida State University 

Florida State University (FSU) has a strong sports management program that will teach you all the information you need to know about the sports industry. Students will take core classes consisting of management, followed with electives that are designated to various interests within the sports industry. These areas of interest can include collegiate athletics, the broader sports industry, sociocultural issues, and more. 

FSU students will also get the opportunity to participate in real life sporting events as part of a practicum, and choose to complete half-time or full-time.  In 2019, sports management students at FSU had a particularly unique opportunity when they were invited to Florida for the NCAA Women’s Final Four. Students got the chance to meet and work with representatives from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Rays, and Tampa Bay Lighting. You can also participate in the Global Sport Management Program at FSU and get the opportunity to travel abroad for some exciting opportunities!

Syracuse University

No matter what roles of the sports industry you may be interested in, Syracuse University will have you covered! The sports management program at Syracuse boasts specialized courses, professional electives, and liberal arts requirements to help prepare students for the industry. 

According to the school’s website, graduates will come away with knowledge on topics that include:

  • Learn how to negotiate employment and endorsement contracts for athletes and teams.
  • Planning games, tournaments, and fundraisers.
  • Oversee major sporting venues.
  • Manage day-to-day team operations.

Courses at Syracuse have been known to cover some interesting topics that include the Super Bowl, the Olympics, psycho-social issues in sports, and finally “an immersion in Los Angeles.” The immersion in Los Angeles is an in person networking event that introduces students to the sports industry on the west coast. Students also will get the opportunity to complete capstone experiences in sales, marketing, finance, event management, law, and more. Notable capstone placements from the past have included Comcast-Spectacor, ESPN, Madison Square Garden, Major League Soccer (MLS), National Hockey League (NHL), Under Armour, and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Common jobs of sports management graduates at Syracuse include:

  • Promotion director
  • Data analyst
  • Marketing coordinator
  • Sales executive
  • Facility manager
  • Director of communications
  • Ticket sales associate
  • Sponsorship director
  • Account manager
  • Event coordinator

Southern Methodist University

The sports management program at Southern Methodist University is run by sport management professionals with decades of experience in the various segments of the sports industry. Any good sports management program will have solid choices when it comes to the business classes, and students will be learning all about the important business skills when they attend the SMU Cox School of Business. This school is ranked nationally leading business journals all throughout the U.S.!

The program at Southern Methodist will consist of 17 different sequenced courses. The courses are delivered over one year in four 7 week modules and one summer internship. You can also earn your Esports Business Management Certificate where you will learn all about Esports including team building, the business of esports (management, finance, risks, and more), fan engagement, streaming strategies, sponsorship, and tournament design. The certificate will consist of six required 12 contact hour courses, 72 contact hours total. These courses will offer a mix of asynchronous material and the opportunity to have a meeting every single week with your instructor.

Temple University 

At the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) at Temple University, real world experience is seen as just as important as the business skills associated with the sports industry. Faculty at STHM are currently at the forefront of sport industry research to help give students the skills and experience to make a true impact out there in the real world. 

Temple University prepares students for success in sports/recreation careers in areas that include:

  • The private/commercial sector
  • Public recreation and park agencies
  • Professional sports
  • Athletics
  • Youth sport agencies
  • Voluntary agencies
  • Campus services
  • Armed forces
  • Corporate and industrial settings

Students at Temple University can also expand their knowledge of the sports industry/business side of things by picking either a minor, certificate, master’s degree, or doctorate degree apart from the Bachelor of Science in Sport and Recreation Management. Learn a little bit more about some of these options offered according to the school’s website:

  • Minor in Sport Management: Enhance your undergraduate studies at Temple University with exposure to courses that will prepare you for the fast-paced work of sport, recreation and leisure management.
  • Certificate in Sport Management: Customize your undergraduate studies at Temple University by gaining exposure to the sport, recreation and leisure industries.
  • Certificate in Sport Marketing: Customize your undergraduate studies at Temple University by gaining insight into the fast-paced world of sales, marketing and communications in sport.
  • Certificate in Event Leadership: Design your undergraduate studies at Temple University to prepare you to lead and succeed in the dynamic world of event planning and management.
  • Master of Science in Sport Business: Take the next step and advance your dream career toward a mid- to high- level management position in this exciting, international industry.
  • PhD in Business Administration with a Concentration in Tourism and Sport: Pursue advanced research, scholarship and pedagogy in preparation for a career in institutions of higher education through this PhD program. You will gain a comprehensive approach to addressing influencing factors in tourism and sport research.

University of Texas at Austin

It should be noted that this university has an exceptionally competitive sports management program, with a cap amount at 150 students. UT Austin’s program is also known to be very diverse, offering selections that include Women and Sport, Race and Sport in African American Life, and Physiological Basis of Conditioning. Like many of the other schools already mentioned, UT Austin also has some excellent study abroad opportunities for the sport management students. One of these opportunities include the Sport, Society, and International Olympic Movement program in Copenhagen, Denmark. This program is led by UT Austin faculty, and aims to explore the international political aspects of the Olympics through the Danish Olympic Agency

UT Austin has also been home to a couple names you might recognize that consist of star athletes and leaders in sport management. Some of these notable alumni include:

University of Michigan

The sports management program at the University of Michigan may impress you right off the bat with some of the teams, agencies, and organizations that have been associated with the school over the years. Those on the list include:

Sport teams

  • Detroit Red Wings
  • New York Mets
  • Milwaukee Bucks

Agencies

  • Creative Artists Agency
  • Wasserman
  • Endeavor

Industry-leading organizations

  • ESPN
  • The NCAA
  • The New York Times
  • Nike

The University of Michigan has a mission that aims to impact the global sport industry through research and knowledge development. According to the school’s website, Michigan wants to achieve the mission of the sports management program in the following ways:

  • A strong commitment to diversity.
  • Quality preparation of doctoral students.
  • A differentiated and innovative undergraduate program.
  • Attracting and retaining leading scholars in sport business.
  • Financially self-sustaining.
  • High level of engagement with the sports industry.
  • Acquiring the physical infrastructure to support our research, teaching and engagement efforts.

The curriculum taught at the University of Michigan will focus primarily on the business and societal impact of sport. This will include required coursework in economics, finance, policy, research and analytics, marketing, legal and ethical issues, organizational behavior, and strategy.

All in all, there are lots of phenomenal sports management programs all across the U.S. Some may be more competitive than others, so check your options out including some of those that were listed here. Good luck!

Matt Lyons
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