When Cadance Winder transferred from Valdosta State University to Augusta University last fall to join the Jaguar’s softball team, she was delighted to learn that her new university offered a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Management degree.
“This is my first year at Augusta University, and I wanted to do sports management at my last school, but they didn’t have it. So, I was really excited to see it offered here,” said Winder, who is a junior. “I’ve already taken two classes so far: Financial Management of Sport and Sport Marketing.”
Steven Page, EdD, chair of kinesiology in the College of Education and Human Development, and Philip Kang, PhD, a new assistant professor at AU, are heading the sports management classes, Winder said.
Course topics include communication, data analytics, economics, event planning, facility management, finance, governance, licensing, law, marketing, media, sales, sponsorship and other important components of the sports industry.
“I like the business aspect of the classes, but then you also talk about other topics like stadiums and income, it makes it interesting,” Winder said. “Dr. Kang is a new professor, who came from the University of Florida, and he has been doing a great job teaching all of us. I actually want to learn and pay attention.”
Considering her love of sports, Winder said she has been fascinated by the course curriculum relating to sports management.
“I’ve played sports ever since I was like three or four. I played softball and basketball, and now I am a part of the softball team here at Augusta University,” she said. “I knew I wanted to stay in sports when I got out of college. And my parents both own their own businesses, so I’ve always been interested in the business side of things. For me, sports management is a good combination.”
A degree like no other
A growing number of students are being drawn to careers involving sports management that focus on a variety of areas including business, law, marketing, public relations, accounting and urban planning, said Judi Wilson, EdD, dean of AU’s College of Education and Human Development.
“This degree allows students to bring their own interests, their own passions to the table,” Wilson said. “Whether it is their athleticism or just a passion for marketing or communication of sports and their desire to want to get the word out, this allows them to design a degree uniquely that reflects them.”
The Bachelor of Arts in Sports Management degree is also unique because all of the other degrees in sports management in Georgia are Bachelor of Science degrees, Wilson said.
“A Bachelor of Arts in Sports Management is more communication-focused, based on critical thinking and holistic learning,” she said. “A Bachelor of Arts degree allows for flexibility that the Bachelor of Science degree just does not provide space for. Augusta University has the only Bachelor of Arts in Sports Management in Georgia.”
“I’ve been surrounded by sports all my life. Even now being a student-athlete, it’s my life,” Jaynes said, smiling. “I’ve always just wanted to do something in that field, so I thought sports management would be the perfect way to kind of get into it. Currently, I’m running cross country and track here at AU, but I am a huge football fan, baseball fan and basketball fan.”
“I just enjoy sports in general, really,” he added. “So, when I found out they were starting sports management here at AU, I was super excited. That was something I wanted to do when I first got into college.”
Jaynes, who is minoring in communication, has already taken several kinesiology classes and is looking forward to the new sports management courses this spring. He is also looking into a summer internship with the Augusta GreenJackets, a Minor League Baseball affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people working in sports management, so I’m still trying to figure out what I specifically want to do in the field,” he said. “But I’m really looking forward to the opportunities that will be available for me during this program.”
During the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championship in November, Jaynes led the team to a 15th-place finish, which is the best AU has done since 2019.
“I’ve really enjoyed being a student-athlete. It is a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun,” Jaynes said. “There’s something about running. It’s a love-hate relationship because some days it is rough, but it’s a good way to compete and just have fun.”
Jaynes, who was born in Savannah but grew up in the small farming town of Brooklet, Georgia, said he can’t wait to see where his degree in sports management will take him.
“I came to Augusta University because Augusta’s program for cross country is one of the best in the state, and I saw it as an opportunity where not only could I grow as a person, but I could grow as an athlete and a student, as well,” he said. “With this sports management degree, I think it’s given me a good start and opportunity to see what organized athletics looks like. It’s been awesome.”
Limitless options in sports management
Students enrolled in the sports management program get firsthand knowledge and advice from guest speakers and lecturers employed at some of the most recognized sports entities in the world, Wilson said.
The undergraduate program also explores a variety of sports settings, including youth sports, intercollegiate sports, professional sports, amateur sports and other organizations related to the sports industry, she said.
“The options are limitless,” Wilson said. “This program allows for the personalization and the tailoring of this degree to meet a student’s unique passions and to reflect their career goals. So, as they think about the workforce and their career trajectory, what is it that they need to achieve those goals? A Bachelor of Arts will help students explore their options.”
Graduates of this program could also potentially find future employment with sports facilities or teams across the country or even worldwide in areas such as communications, event management, data analytics or business, Page said.
“The sports management program will prepare students to work in high-level competitive settings such as professional teams, NCAA organizations and other sport businesses and organizations,” Page said.
This degree allows new students to embrace their love of sports and find a future career in sports management, Page said.
“A lot of students love sports and they’ve grown up playing sports, but they may not just be a college athlete or they may not be strong in the sciences, so they need other options,” Page said. “They don’t need to necessarily go to another major that has nothing to do with sports. If sports is their true passion, this could be their new pathway to a career in sports.”
Winder, who grew up north of Atlanta in Cherokee County, said after she graduates with her sports management degree from Augusta University, her dream job would be to one day work for the Atlanta Braves.
“I’m a really big Braves fan,” Winder said, smiling. “My house is right by the Braves’ stadium, so I would love to work for the Braves one day. That would be ideal. That would be my ultimate dream job.”