November 20, 2009

Sport administration major kicks off this spring

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Students who love sports can turn that passion into a job with a new major offered this spring by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Kinesiology.

The 120-hour undergraduate sport administration degree prepares students to work in such venues as school and college sports, community recreation programs, sport programs within social agencies, marketing firms and sports arenas, among others.

“A lot of behind-the-scenes work goes on to make a team, league or event happen,” said Chair Elaine M. Blinde.

“There is a demand not just for coaches but for athletic program directors, event and facility managers, fund-raisers, compliance experts. They’re not the stars, but they help produce what you see.”

Meungguk Park, who coordinates the program and has a doctoral degree in sport management, said sport overall is a $220 billion industry.

“It’s one of the top 10 businesses in the United States,” he noted. “There is a huge demand for managers in this area.”

The department developed the new major in response to student inquiries, Blinde said.

“We have already had some students transfer in in anticipation of this,” she noted. “Our academic adviser expects 30 students will enroll spring semester.”

Julie Partridge, who chaired the committee that put the new program together, said they had not found many such programs in the region.

“We see this as a tremendous opportunity not just for the students but for the department and for the University,” she said.

The degree includes four new courses developed specifically for it: introduction to sport administration; business aspects of sport; legal and ethical issues in sport; and a supervised internship.

“A lot of problems are associated with sports -- steroid use, NCAA rule violations -- so it is critical for future sport managers to possess integrity, social responsibility and ethics,” Park said.

“We think this emphasis makes our program different from those at other universities.”

Local internship placements will focus on Saluki athletics, the Southern Illinois Miners (baseball team), area schools and community colleges, and community recreation programs. Park can work with students from big cities, such as Chicago, on placements closer to home.

Students who wish to learn more about the new major can reach Park by e-mail at or by phone at 618/453-3159. Those who have specific questions about coursework or enrollment should contact Jacquelyn A. Chapman in the College of Education and Human Services’ advisement office by e-mail at or by phone at 618/453-6340.