A group of sports professionals and academic instructors’ idea came to fruition as California Lutheran University launched its sports management major this fall.
“It feels very good that they are now moving up from a sports management minor to a major,” Professor of Communication Russell Stockard said. “Sports—along with entertainment—is one of the biggest industries in our economy, so getting a major in sports is a good first step to going into a career.”
The sports management major offers new learning opportunities for students seeking a career in the field.
“Being enrolled in the sports management program gives me the chance to learn different aspects and sides of sports,” junior Antonio Valle-Lobjois said.
Cal Lutheran’s sports management program touches on everything from the business and economic side of professional athletics to interpersonal communication and marketing—preparing students to manage, sell and support professional sports organizations.
According to the sports management major website, the curriculum was developed in partnership with professionals from the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Galaxy.
Since 2013, Cal Lutheran’s sports management minor and emphasis have been attracting students of all backgrounds and filling classrooms.
Thirty to 35 students showed interest in the fall-only class, so the university began offering it year-round.
“We started offering the class twice a year, fall and spring, and noticed that they were full as well,” Director of the School of Management online program, Bruce Gillies, said in a phone interview. “President Kimball then said it was time to take a look at a sports management major.”
Charles Maxey, former dean of the School of Management, asked Gillies if he could spearhead the development of the new major.
Gillies said he and the team behind this project decided to include the degree in the School of Management because there were few programs offered under the umbrella of business—sports management programs are mainly found in kinesiology or education.
“We thought, sports is a business, it needs to be in the management area,” Gillies said.
When Gillies and Maxey started looking at the numbers from their marketing research, they agreed the major was a necessary step in the university’s academic growth.
“We then got an advisory council of 40 people and we were able to find out the specific [knowledge] that our sports management students are going to need [going into the field],” Gillies said. “We were also able to define our courses, leveraging some of the current courses…and adding a couple of electives.”
After obtaining approval from the president, provost and undergraduate career committee, the program was introduced fall 2020.
“This is a great chance for students to dive deeper and learn new things,” Valle-Lobjois, said.