Sports management program one of two accredited in state


Professor Jennifer Sieszputowski lectures during her PES 320 class in the HP building, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016.

Michigan has two Big Ten colleges, but neither Michigan State University or University of Michigan offer an accredited sports management program. 

Central Michigan University is one of 45 sports management programs in the country that is accredited, and one of the only two in Michigan. Davenport University was accredited in 2015.

Being accredited has increased the number of students, and in return students are applying for the program in higher numbers. The enrollment report for the 2014 Authorized On-Campus Majors lists 176 students as signing a sports management major in the fall. After being accredited in spring 2015, the number jumped to 212 this fall. 

Milford sophomore Julia King transferred from Oakland Community College for CMU's sports management program.

“CMU has the best sports management program in the state,” King said. “The faculty and opportunities that the program has are really amazing. I’m going into the business side of sports management and CMU has students who work for the NFL, which is what I would like to do.”

Accreditation is a seal of approval that acknowledges excellence in sports management. Becoming an accredited program is a long process. 

It starts with an application and review of the program, then Commission on Sport Management Accreditation members look at the curriculum and identify that the program was one of the best in the country. The program has to reach certain national standards and maintain that criteria.

“For sports management to be accredited, we share our mission and goals and work out a five year plan,” said Scott Hirko, assistant professor and director of the sport management program. “The curriculum and learning objectives have to be measured to learn if the program continuously meets its goals.”

December through January, Hirko and other faculty in the program submited a new curriculum. The program identified strengths and weaknesses and came up with a strategic plan for a new curriculum that supports it as a leader in sports management across the country, Hirko said. Eight new classes are going to be offered to keep up-to-date with the world of sports, such as a sports analytics class.

“The sports management program is the umbrella of the business of sports. It can involve marketing, business and coaching,” said Physical Education and Sports faculty member Marcia Mackey. Mackey has worked in the sports management program since 1992.

The program offers a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management, Bachelor of Arts in Sport Management, Bachelor of Applied Arts in Sport Management and a Master of Arts in Sport Administration.

To complete their program, students are required to undertake internships. Some notable internships students participated in were with the U.S. Olympics committee, Detroit Tigers and Pistons, NFL, WNBA and NASCAR.

Alumna Sarah Cardon is working as the suite services representative for the San Francisco 49ers. She works with the luxury suite holders for Levi's Stadium and the 49ers.

“The professors at CMU's sport management program really care about their students,” Cardon said. “They provided me with the opportunity for real world experience — which was crucial for me to be able to get started in the industry.”