Sports management degree lines up nicely with business

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New this fall, sports management closely aligns with Southwestern Michigan College business degrees.

An Associate in Applied Science in sports management provides students with the knowledge and skills needed for entry-level positions in facility and event management, sports and recreational programming, athletic coaching, parks and recreation, minor league sports sales and marketing and sports media.

Lead Physical Education Instructor Ritch Reynolds designed the degree to transfer into programs at Michigan four-year colleges and universities, furthering students’ knowledge and employment opportunities.

“We have seven students enrolled in the new major and expect around 20 for the first year. It’s still very early, so I am pleased with the numbers so far,” Reynolds said. “I am working on the curriculum for three new courses and I am still in conversation with multiple universities about transfer articulation agreements. Also, I am looking to identify and connect with SMC alumni who work in sports management with hopes of creating a support network for students and involvement in the program as guest speakers, mentors, internship opportunities and site visits.”

Sports management students develop professional aptitude, study basic business and management practices and gain a solid introduction to a growing field.

They’ll learn skills essential for career advancement, such as networking and professionalism.


All students complete a practicum to gain real-world experience in a sports or recreation operation.

Practicum possibilities range from SMC’s Student Activity Center and parks departments to the Kalamazoo Wings hockey club or baseball’s South Bend Cubs.

For his practicum at WMU, Reynolds produced sports for WKZO.

Graduates gain levels 1-3 certification in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Coaches Advancement Program.

p9 - weightroom 2Sports and wellness are integral at SMC. The Dowagiac campus provides many outlets for intramural and extreme sports through the Student Activity Center.

Intramurals vary by semester, but usually include basketball, volleyball, softball, flag football and soccer.

Extreme sports opportunities abound for courses and trips in everything from snowboarding to white-water rafting.

The Student Activity Center features a fitness center, rock wall, gymnasium, racquetball courts and endless pools.

While SMC graduates can gain entry-level sports management jobs, students are encouraged to pursue a bachelor’s degree for the dynamic, but highly competitive field.

Career options with advanced Sports management degrees include managing professional and collegiate sports teams; sales, marketing and public relations for sports teams or agencies; player coaching, scouting and representation; stadium operations; sports merchandising; travel and event planning; sports and recreation programming; sports journalism; field maintenance, preparation and conversion; and ticket sales.

SMC is the only community college belonging to the Michigan Statewide Sports Management Association (MSSMA) along with Adrian College, Eastern Michigan University, Finlandia University, University of Michigan, Aquinas College, Davenport University, Grand Valley State University, Western Michigan University, Central Michigan University, Ferris State University and Michigan State University.

A SMC degree prepares students for the full range of possibilities with on-the-job training from 144-hour internships in a 50-mile radius, although one of Jim Benak’s hospitality students spent a semester with Disney in Florida.

“Every program in the School of Business that leads to an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree requires an internship — accounting, general business, office administration and information technology,” according to SMC Business Chair Joanne Strebeck.

The 144 hours is comparable to a semester-length three-credit course.

“Ideally, the site becomes the teacher,” she said. “The best that can happen is they learn things from the owner they hadn’t thought about as IT, accounting or business administration majors. A lot of students want to be entrepreneurs. That’s the fastest way to learn whether or not they really want to own their own business.

“Students bring fresh ideas, like free software that can be downloaded to do something (for employers),” Strebeck said. “It’s an opportunity for students to showcase their skills and use hands-on what we teach in the classroom. Internships broaden their view about what’s possible. Running a small business is not easy. An internship can be an eye-opening experience.”

Todd Obren copy

Trustee Todd Obren

Trustee Todd Obren agrees. He dual-enrolled at SMC while still a student at Edwardsburg High School seeking classes that would challenge him academically while satisfying a semester’s worth of basic college credits.

Obren attended Albion College for pre-med, intending to become a doctor, but changed his major to finance and economics, joining Chemical Bank in 2001.

He was promoted April 1 to Niles Community President and Senior Leader for Niles Community Bank and Benton Harbor Community Bank.

“Any type of business degree is universal,” Obren said. “You can do lots of things with it. Most students don’t really know what they want to do. You can narrow it down later.”

All School of Business degrees roll into Ferris State University baccalaureate programs.

AAS graduates can also complete a bachelor’s degree in organizational management on SMC’s Dowagiac campus through Bethel College.

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