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Non-Majors Launch Sports Media Careers with Certificate

No matter what your major, breaking into the sports media industry takes more than being a big fan.

Sports-minded students in the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations can earn a Concentration in Sports Media by taking designated electives.

But what options do students outside the Stan Richards School have to turn their passion for sports into a career?

The Sports Media Certificate was created specifically for students who are not Advertising or Public Relations majors but want a job with sports leagues or organizations, sports media, athletes, or brands connecting with audiences through sports. No need for students to switch majors. They can tailor their careers through the Certificate program.

“It is a competitive working situation in sports and sports media,” said Joel Lulla, an SRS lecturer who teaches many of the Sports Media courses. “Currently, there are lots of people who want to work in this area, and our program gives students a leg up, an extra credential, which is helpful when they apply for a full time job after graduation.”

The program allows students to deep-dive into sports media not only through course work but guest speakers who bring their real world experiences into the classroom. For Wynden Williams, a 2015 graduate in Communication Studies, hearing from industry insiders expanded her knowledge of the exciting opportunities available in the field.   

“The main thing I really enjoyed is that in pretty much each class I took, there were at least two lectures per semester where professionals within the field came to discuss major topics in the industry, course material, and their own careers,” Williams said. “It was very insightful, interesting, and eye-opening to have guests lecturers, as well as professors themselves, who had extensive experience and were currently living out some of the career paths we were thinking of pursuing.”

Earlier this semester, Bob Bowlsby, the Commissioner of the Big 12 Conference, spoke to students on a wide range of issues related to intercollegiate athletics, including NCAA authorization to hold a Big 12 football championship game, the College Football Playoff, and student-athlete compensation. 

At the time, Morgan Ekstorm, a senior Radio-Television-Film major, couldn’t believe his good fortune to be present during the discussion. “It’s definitely an incredible chance to be close and be able to hear [Bowlsby’s] opinions,” said Ekstorm, who has taken Sports Media courses. “This space allows the Commissioner to be free to talk with us instead of in front of so many cameras and people, and it is really cool to hear his ideas.”

Additionally, the program requires students to find and complete an internship that’s more than making copies and fetching coffee. One student, Rachel Goodman, a senior Journalism major, was able to parlay an internship at NBC last summer into working with the network again during this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“She got a slot out of thousands of applicants,” Lulla said. “And I’m so proud of her.”

But it’s not just the traditional internships that make the program so valuable to students. It’s the unexpected opportunities that give them an extra experience for their resumes as well as a chance to network.  In February, Lulla secured 10 positions for students to work for NBC at the World Golf Championships – Dell Match Play in March. 

"Volunteering at the Dell Match Play Tournament gave me valuable insight on TV production in professional sports,” said Gerrit Cook, a senior Communication Studies major and one of the 10 students. “I expanded my network with a variety of people who contributed to the success of the tournament.”

Looking back, Wynden Williams is glad she added the Sports Media Certificate to her list of accomplishments.

“I took an introductory course in Kinesiology when I thought about majoring in Sports Management,” Williams said, “but after taking a Sports Media course I realized that it was a much better fit for me and my careers goals. It is a great opportunity to see that there are so many other facets to sports than you may initially think. I would say that if you are even slightly interested in a career in sports or sports in general, you should definitely try it.”

May 4, 2016

Qiannan Xue

For more information, contact:

Kathleen Mabley at 512-232-1417