When Adrian Dowell graduates on May 14, he will be breaking new ground as the College’s first recipient of a MBA/Master's in Sport Management dual-degree.
Begun in 2009, the two-year, six-semester program combines the best of both areas and blends content from two colleges, the College of Business and Economics and the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences (CPASS).
“The dual-degree program is what initially attracted me to WVU,” said the 2008 Roanoke College graduate. “There are only a few schools in the nation that offer this opportunity, and I am very happy with my decision. The curriculum and professors at WVU have prepared me for a career within the sports industry, and I look forward to graduating very soon with two degrees from this incredible institution.”
In fact, opportunities in the business of sports are plentiful, said Dr. Dallas Branch, who coordinates the program for CPASS.
“Sport is not only a business,” he said. “It’s a big business. Opportunities abound in everything from sport marketing to finance to fundraising. The fact is, sport is the sixth largest industry in the country.”
Students take courses ranging from financial statements analysis to global strategic management, from NCAA compliance and current issues to sport publicity.
“This dual degree is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn the business of sports while learning the important skill sets and language of business,” said Gary Insch, B&E director of Graduate Programs. “Many sports managers and athletic directors spend much of their careers negotiating across the table from corporate managers with MBAs of their own. Being able to speak the same language will give our graduates a significant advantage in the workplace.”
Students are also required to participate in an internship. For Dowell, a member of the WVU College of Physical Activity & Sport Sciences Advisory Board, it’s working for the Mountaineer Athletic Club, part of the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. “It is great being a part of an organization that raises funds in order to cover scholarship cost and programs that benefit WVU's student-athletes,” he said.
After graduation from Roanoke, Dowell worked with the NCAA for a year before coming to WVU.
“Working for the NCAA was an incredible, life-changing experience,” he said.
He worked on the Division I basketball staff, which is responsible for administering the championship for Division I basketball. He was involved in site selections, bracketing, seeding, the Final Four and running tournament logistics for “March Madness.”
“Growing up, I always loved watching the tournament and Final Fours, so it is needless to say that when I found myself in the war room during Selection Sunday, it was a dream come true,” he said.
Dowell was also one of 17 MBA students in Germany for a spring break international experience, a requirement of that program. “The trip to Germany is amazing,” he wrote during the trip. “I think it is incredible that WVU MBA students receive an opportunity to travel abroad, and I am attempting to take full advantage of it! We have learned a ton about Germany and their economy while also having a great time.”
Dowell said he hopes to be an athletic director for a NCAA Division I school someday.
Daniel Whitehead, who earned an undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University, is also in the program and will graduate in May 2012.
Whitehead, who minored in business and majored in public relations, wanted to combine his undergraduate experience and his love of college sports into a career focus that would open doors. “When I was doing an internship in the athletic media relations office at Brigham Young, I noticed a lot of sports information directors had degrees in sport management.”
However, only a few programs in the nation combined a degree in sport management with an MBA.
Branch called the dual degree a “relatively new phenomena.”
“I’d say there are fewer than 10 similar programs in the country,” he said. “Plus, the interdisciplinary nature of this fits nicely into the WVU strategic plan for more units to collaborate and work together.”
Whitehead, who is a graduate assistant with the WVU Sports Communications Department, said he hopes to find a position as an NCAA Division I sports information director.
“I think the combination of a sport management and MBA degree makes for a good resume,” he said, “and will expand my opportunities.”
Insch said the program is an academic “win-win,” and that the College is looking for other such opportunities. “The interdisciplinary nature of dual-degree programs provides distinct and valuable competencies to interested students,” he said, “and the College of Business & Economics is actively seeking similar dual-degree programs with several other colleges on campus.”