The 10 Best Colleges for Sports Management

Tom Brady, Lebron James, Serena Williams, Simone Biles — the best-known names in sports are the star athletes. The Super Bowls, championships, tournaments, and Olympics they play draw millions of spectators. But behind every star, every event is an army of managers, agents, and administrators that make it all happen.

Sports management involves planning, organizing, managing, budgeting, and marketing for the various areas of the sports industry. While athletes and coaches focus on the game, sports managers handle the business side. This might mean running the budget of a large arena or forging personal connections with high-profile players and executives. It could also mean being an agent for one of these players or becoming a talent scout for the next generation.

If you’re a big sports fan and want to go into business, studying sports management in college is the perfect way to combine your passions into a career that can be very lucrative. In this article, we’ll highlight the main draws of the top 10 baccalaureate sports management programs in the U.S. These programs range from business to marketing to physiology, with opportunities to intern at big-name sports conglomerates or study abroad for a global perspective.

The following programs stand out because they provide professional training as well as basic knowledge of kinesiology and business theory. They’re especially good at connecting students to post-grad work opportunities.

So without further ado, here are the top 10 best colleges for sports management.

10. Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)

Florida State University
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

FSU’s undergrad sports management program lays the foundation for how the sports industry works. After taking core classes in management, students can take electives that focus on a particular area of interest within the sports industry, including collegiate athletics, the broader sports industry, its sociocultural issues, and more.

Students can also participate in a practicum, where they apply what they’ve learned to real-life sports events. These experiences can be part-time or full-time, volunteer or paid. Often this means traveling to other parts of the country and networking with established professionals in the industry.

In 2019, FSU students traveled to Tampa, Florida for the NCAA Women’s Final Four. They got to meet and work with representatives from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL), Tampa Bay Rays (MLB), and Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL).

9. Indiana University (Bloomington, IN)

Indiana University
Vmenkov, Herman B Wells Library and lotus pond, CC BY-SA 3.0

At IU, students pursue a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology (BSK) with a major in Sports Marketing and Management. It’s a competitive, internationally renowned program that provides a basic foundation in law, marketing, communication, management, psychology, and finance. Students will develop practical skills in media relations, public relations, event planning, computers, and business organization.

The degree focuses both on the physical body and the business of sports. Students then apply this knowledge to a required practicum or internship at IU’s own athletic department or Indianapolis, home to the Colts (NFL), Pacers (NBA), Fever (WNBA), Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and more. Indeed, IU is one of the best places to study sports management because of the sheer variety of sports opportunities in the surrounding community.

Perhaps the most famous IU alum in sports management is billionaire investor Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

8. Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State University
Nheyob, University Hall, The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio), CC BY-SA 3.0

Majoring in Sport Industry at OSU results in a B.S. and gives students an interdisciplinary education. Courses include sports history and development, ethics, and sports’ relationship to business, mass media, public policy, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and class.

The major prepares students for athletic administration, coaching, fitness training, community recreation, youth sport, sport communications, sports marketing, and sports franchises and facilities. The B.S. program also prepares students for competitive master’s programs that will take them deeper into the field.

OSU students can also study abroad in Germany to learn the European model of sports management or Japan to learn about the country’s culture through sports.

Ohio State men’s basketball coach Bob Knight graduated from the school in 1962.

7. Temple University (Philadelphia, PA)

Temple University
Jim.henderson, Charles Library winter, CC BY 4.0

Located in the fan-centric city of Philadelphia, Temple University has a dedicated school for sport, tourism, and hospitality management. In addition to regular coursework, students are required to complete two internships in order to earn a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Recreation Management. The program prepares students for a plethora of professional areas: sales and promotions, account management, fitness director, public relations, sports analytics, event and venue management, and so on.

Alternatively, Temple offers a minor in sport management that students can use to enhance their job prospects if they plan on entering a sports-related field.

There are also many undergraduate professional organizations at Temple, such as the Event Planning Association, Society of Minorities in Sport, and Sport and Governance Association.

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