Published on July 8th, 2019 | by TLV News0
Sports Administration Program at Ole Miss Sends Students to Major Leagues
Program equips graduates to thrive in competitive field
The sport and recreation administration major at the University of Mississippi is giving students the academic capital and practical experience they need to land a career in an exciting industry, one that is projected to grow 10 percent over the coming years.
Leaders in the industry command annual salaries ranging from about $65,000 to more than $102,000.
Careers in major sports league management are highly sought. While many positions exist within these leagues, there are far more people who want the jobs. To make SRA graduates more competitive in the industry, internships are built into the curriculum to help undergraduate students begin building their resumes.
“They get the skills they need from classwork, networking and a 10-week, 400-hour internship where they actually work full-time with an agency or organization,” said David Waddell, lecturer in health, exercise science and recreation management. “A lot of those will end up becoming job opportunities.
“If nothing else, they’ve got a solid eight weeks of full-time experience that they can then use on resumes to launch into other areas or other positions.”
While students can find careers in a variety of sports- and recreation-related fields, many seek opportunities with national sports franchises. Two female students – Mackenzie Tole, a junior from Wichita Falls, Texas, and Megan Defeo, a senior from Barrington, Illinois – and recent graduate Sydney Malone, of Tuscumbia, Alabama, are interning or working full-time in the male-dominated world of Major League Baseball.
Tole is spending her summer in Atlanta working for Perfect Game, an organization that promotes baseball by hosting amateur events to expose young players to colleges, major league organizations and more. Tole got her start at Ole Miss, and with help from faculty members, she has been able to begin pursuit of a career.
“With Ole Miss being in the SEC, it has great opportunities for potential employers,” Tole said. “My professors and advisers have excellent professional, social and personal contacts that I feel will benefit me in my future endeavors.”
Defeo and Malone also are pursuing their careers in baseball, working with teams in the Southeast. Defeo is interning with the Memphis Redbirds, a minor league team affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals, and Malone is working in an administrative role in the amateur scouting division of the Tampa Bay Rays in Florida.
Fellow SRA major Jonathan Hvozdovic, a senior from Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, is working an internship with the NFL Philadelphia Eagles. Hvozdovic said his educational journey at Ole Miss has been preparing him to step into this competitive job market.
“Ole Miss has provided me with the education and experiences that are needed to work in the field of sport administration,” Hvozdovic said. “Working with a professional franchise is extremely competitive, and Ole Miss provides its students with the tools required to be a desirable candidate in the field among other graduating students.”
Beyond opportunities in operations management and promotions with national sport franchises, the SRA program prepares students for leadership roles in parks and recreation departments, nonprofits, national parks and recreation ministry.
“There are always available positions and myriad opportunities, like providing recreation for children with special needs or working with specific age groups, like being a children’s sports coordinator,” Waddell said. “Just the municipal side of it alone has tons of job opportunities. There are avenues in camping and outdoor recreation.
“Some of our students become park rangers; some are with the Corps of Engineers. Some become hunting and fishing guides or camping guides. Some have operated camps. YMCA is another avenue. Then you’ve got Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Campfire Boys and Girls, Boys and Girls Clubs – just a variety of nonprofit groups that need recreation management expertise.”
Waddell, who earned his bachelor’s degree in sports and recreation management and has a background in recreation ministry, has taught and advised many students, including Tole, Malone, Defeo and Hvozdovic. Teaching students to go out into the world and achieve their goals is something he takes pride in.
“It’s like throwing a rock into a pond,” Waddell said. “It makes an initial splash, but then the ripples go on. And I think that would describe my teaching.
“I’m going to make a big splash during your four years here, and hopefully those ripples will continue to roll out. And then you’ll be making big splashes in your own world.”
The School of Applied Sciences offers professional preparation programs that integrate academic study, clinical training, creative research, service-learning and community outreach, leading to the development of leaders whose professional endeavors will improve health and well-being.