Sport Management Program on Road to National Accreditation

November 20, 2015

Popular Major on Track to Be One of Only Three Programs in Ohio to Earn National Endorsement

One of Wilmington College’s fastest growing majors, sport management, is on track to attain national accreditation in 2017.

(Pictured) Sport management program director Daniel Kelly instructs a class in the new Center for Sport Sciences.

This fall, the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA) granted WC’s program “candidacy” status as the latest step in the process that will include submitting a self-study in September 2016 followed by a campus visit by a COSMA review team in February 2017.

Program director Daniel Kelly, Ph.D., associate professor of sport management, has overseen program expansion and major changes in the curriculum during his two-and-a-half years at WC.

Earlier this semester, he provided the accrediting body information on the program’s mission, requirements, assessment systems and faculty qualification — a 70-page document he worked on last summer.

He noted that, while many Ohio colleges and universities have sport management programs, Wilmington College’s would become only the third nationally accredited one in the state and among just over two-dozen nationwide.

Kelly said COSMA accreditation would serve as a “calling card” in validating the program’s breadth and depth of quality to prospective students, as well as current students and program alumni.

Earlier this year, WC’s program achieved a “significant milestone” as Best Small Colleges ranked the sport management program number one in the nation for institutions with fewer than 3,000 students in its 2015 Sport Management Degree Guide.

Kelly emphasizes the program’s experiential learning opportunities and career preparation component. Indeed, many courses require students attend programs sponsored by the Career Resources Center, such as speed networking exercises, resume/cover letter workshops and alumni panels discussing what employers are looking for in new hires. Also, sport management majors have a significant presence at the annual Etiquette Dinner.

“The sport management program places an emphasis on hands-on learning,” Kelly said, noting that Cincinnati Reds and Bengals personnel have been guest presenters in classes and students have ample opportunities to actually stage sport-related events. “Competition is fierce for the best jobs and we’re making sure our students are getting what they need to be competitive.”

Two students are currently working part time for the Bengals on game-days.

Sport management is among the College’s most popular majors and, with 101 students, a significant number are paying members of the WC Sport Management Club, which provides them with additional opportunities for practical experience in putting on such events as the Homecoming Adventure Run, Quaker Backbreaker obstacle course challenge and Hermann Madness, which is the annual event that ushers in basketball season. Students also staged a fundraiser for the Pat Summitt Foundation.

So far in 2015, club members have had opportunities to visit Paul Brown Stadium, Great American Ballpark, Nationwide Arena and Mapfre Stadium — the homes of the Cincinnati Bengals and Reds, Columbus Blue Jackets and Columbus Crew, respectively. Also, they toured Ohio State University’s athletics facilities.

The club has been raising funds to help defray expenses for a trip this spring to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine Conference, where they will have an “opportunity of a lifetime” to network with industry professionals, attend presentations on the sport and see prospective NFL players perform drills before pro scouts and other team personnel.

Some 400 alumni were students in WC’s sport management program that Terry Rupert, vice president for athletic administration, started in the late 1990s. As a key part of the accreditation process, Kelly is in the midst of establishing a sport management alumni council that will provide input on how WC can best prepare its students for jobs in the sport management field.

Kelly said alumni should be proud of the Best Small Colleges ranking and the program’s quest for national accreditation, as those former students provide “the foundation” of the current success.

“Alumni can rest assured that the sport management program is continuing to improve and make progress towards building and sustaining a positive brand in the professional marketplace.”