Westminster offers first sports management program in the state starting Fall 2017

Joshua Pittman, the head coach of the men’s soccer team at Westminster College, watches players from the sideline during practice. Pittman said he thinks the new sports management major the college is offering beginning Fall 2017 will be “attractive to potential students” at Westminster. Photo by Joshua Fisher.

Joshua Pittman, the head coach of the men’s soccer team at Westminster College, watches players from the sideline during practice. Pittman said he thinks the new sports management major the college is offering beginning Fall 2017 will be “attractive to potential students” at Westminster. Photo by Joshua Fisher.

In Fall 2017, Westminster College will become the first institution of higher education in Utah to offer a sports management major, which some said could be an asset for the college when recruiting students who are looking to engage in Utah's sports community.

Utah has over six professional sports teams in the state, numerous collegiate teams and a multitude of ski resorts across the valley. However, colleges in the state have yet to provide students with a dedicated major to learn sports management skills.

“There is a tremendous amount of jobs in sports management in our state and in our country, but there aren’t any programs locally like this that tailor their education specifically to sports business and sports administration,” said Adam Sanft, an adjunct faculty member who will teach the college athletic administration course in the fall. 

Though the University of Utah currently provides an emphasis in sports management,   Westminster's program will be the first of its kind, which some think could give the college a one-up on recruitment.

“I think this type of program will be so attractive to potential students here,” said Joshua Pittman, the head coach of men's soccer.

Lisa Gentile, Westminster's provost, said the college's admissions counselors often hearprospective students ask about sports management. When they find out they can't major in the area, some choose to leave. Kaycee Mortensen, an accounting major and sports management minor, said she knows people who chose to attend a different school when they found out the major wasn't an option.

"I'm curious to see if we get more first-year students recruited specifically for this program," Mortensen said.  

Sara Beaudry, assistant athletic trainer and head coach, said the program came about after she noticed some athletes creating custom majors that focused on sports management. She said she thought having a dedicated major for these students “would be a perfect fit for Westminster."

Beaudry spent last summer building a proposal for the program, which the college recently approved to move forward for Fall 2017.

Partnering with the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business to create a foundation, the program will then add in specialized classes that customize the major to sports management.

“A program like this creates a defined approach in your academics and where you are trying to go,” Pittman said.

The new major will require internships during students' final year in the program, which Beaudry said is designed to give them the opportunity to practice what they've learned.

“You can sit in a classroom and talk about sports all day long,” Beaudry said. “But not until you’re actually out there and thinking and acting in that world does it all come together."