ADRIAN COLLEGE (By Claire Simpson) — Ten years ago, Keith Christy Ph.D., Adrian College Professor of Sport Management, and the Academic Affairs office introduced a Sport Management concentration for a Bachelor of Business Administration. To earn the degree, students must complete 15 credit hours of Sport Management classes including an internship.
Since its inauguration, Adrian College has become No. 3 in Michigan for Best Sport Management program by Niche, an online resource providing information on colleges across the United States, and the field is one of the largest majors on campus with over 170 students in the undergraduate program.
“A lot of programs are just Sport Management. Students may take business classes but aren’t getting that Business degree. I truly believe it makes them more marketable,” said Christy.
Seeing growth within the concentration prompted the administration to create a graduate program geared towards Sport Management two years later. This provided students their choice of in person, online or hybrid formats to allow flexibility in taking classes due to the vast majority of the students being coaches and others who work full-time.
The graduate program consists of six core classes with an array of electives to choose from.
In addition to course work, “we try to bring a lot of guest speakers from the industry including from the Pistons, Red Wings, Tigers, Mudhens and Michigan International Speedway to give that exposure to our students,” said Christy.
The Society of Sport Management on Adrian College’s campus has brought 21 speakers and 52 students to its Sports Business Conference including industry leaders and professionals comprising of radio, television, and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (including the commissioner). Students who are a part of the Society of Sport Management have also visited surrounding arenas and stadiums to gain knowledge from specialists, in hopes to make them better candidates for jobs in the future.
“The addition of these experiential trips that we’ve been providing has offered something unique to our program that other programs may not be able to offer,” said Charles Reid Ph.D., Adrian College Professor of Sports Management, Department Chair.
The club was derailed by Covid in 2020, but is intending to make its return in the 2022-2023 academic year.
Although Covid forced some to slow down, it positively impacted the enrollment in the Sport Management graduate program. The master’s in Sport Management has the highest enrolled students within a master’s program at Adrian College with 17 in the spring of 2021. Due to the NCAA granting students an extra year of eligibility, many students stuck around and started their journey to a Master’s degree, in which those same students received their diploma at this year’s spring commencement held on May 1.
“We feel like it’s our program that makes them want to stay because they didn’t have to stick around,” said Reid.
Because of Reid and the connections he made while attending Florida State University, Adrian College students were granted the opportunity to volunteer at Super Bowl LVI participating in Fan Zone and the Punt, Pass, Kick Zone leading up to the event and other various tasks during the game.
Adrian College 2022 graduate Ben Pelletier explained that, “seeing the electricity and passion behind a sports fan, especially at the collegiate level, inspired me to work in sports. When you’re picking trash, when you’re cleaning bathrooms at a facility and you see what a win does to a city and fanbase, that makes everything worth it.”
After volunteering at the Super Bowl, Pelletier and others started emailing the sports commission emphasizing their desire to volunteer at the NCAA National Football Championship. “The tenacity of the group really secured those events we wanted to be a part of,” Pelletier said.
“As a result, students have made connections while volunteering. They went to the NFL draft because a student met other students while at the Super Bowl. We also went to Indianapolis for the NCAA National Championship game because of our experience with the Super Bowl,” said Reid.
Students volunteered at the New Orleans NCAA Final Four because of an Adrian College Alumni who also volunteered and wanted to bring along current Adrian College students. Similarly, a current graduate student volunteered to this year’s HBCU All-Star game because of his own contact, participating in the operations, development and creation of the event.
“We opened the door and let the students walk through,” said Reid. “We let the students run a lot of this because they need the experience of setting things up like this for their own futures. The sport industry is built on experience and connections. We’re trying as hard as we can to get them that experience that makes their resume stand out when they go to an interview, or making that connection that gets them in an interview.”
Students have also volunteered and participated in events including the Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day game and Toledo Walleye Winterfest.
Other than looking to expand curriculum and building a bigger network, Reid emphasized that the Adrian College difference is that it has “three Ph.D. faculty members in Sport Management with intense knowledge and practical experience. We’ve all worked in the industry and came back to teach.”