UMass’ McCormack Department of Sports Management Celebrates 50th Anniversary
Some sports heavyweights will descend on Amherst this weekend, as UMass’ McCormack Sports Management Department celebrates its 50th anniversary with a slew of events.
The program, which began as the Department of Sports Studies (DDS) in 1971 – just the second sports management program in the nation (Ohio University) – has recruited some of the most senior executives in the sports world. over its five decades of existence. This list includes the likes of PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, as well as current and former Major League Baseball executives Dave Littlefield, Neal Huntington, Chris Antonetti and Ben Cherington.
The central event of the weekend is a Saturday night banquet at the Mullins Center, which will be hosted by ESPN reporter and former Mike Reiss (BS, ’97). Notable alumni expected this weekend include Joe Fitzgerald (VP/Events, NHL), Pamela Levine (CEO, Manduka) and David Wright (Chief Marketing Officer, US Soccer Federation). The event will also include the induction of the 2021 and 2022 Sports Management Program classes of distinguished alumni.
In addition, the department will sponsor a free and open to the public Title IX Roundtable on Sunday (10 a.m.-11:30 a.m., Isenberg School of Management Business Innovation Hub) that will intersect the 50th anniversary with the 50 years of Title IX.
Sports Management Department Chairman Steve McKelvey said the weekend’s events are “a labor of love,” and he looks forward to welcoming esteemed alumni and members of the UMass community back.
“We have a great group coming back to campus to celebrate our 50th anniversary,” said McKelvey, himself a product of the graduate sports management program at UMass (1986).
Monahan, who graduated from the master’s program 25 years ago, said his experience at Amherst helped him become one of the most powerful executives in professional sports.
“My year at UMass opened many doors for me and broadened my knowledge of the industry, while establishing a group of allies among my classmates, some of whom are today industry leaders today,” he said.
Sunday’s Title IX discussion will be moderated by Levine, a former UMass women’s tennis player who successfully sued under Title IX to have the sport reinstated when UMass tried to suppress it in the early 1990s. Other panelists include Wright, Lisa Masteralexis, senior associate dean of the Isenberg School of Management, Kirsten Britton, UMass senior associate AD, and UMass softball coach Danielle Henderson.
Founded in 1971 by Drs. Harold VanderZwaag and Guy Lewis as the Department of Sports Studies, the UMass program has evolved from an initial focus of sports history and philosophy to a more business-centric approach.
UMass hired Bernie Mullin to teach marketing and other business-related courses in 1977, and Glenn Wong came on board in 1979 to teach the program’s first sports law courses.
In 2001, graduate program director Dr. Jay Gladden helped create a dual MBA/MS degree and the following year the program moved to the Isenberg School of Management. Another milestone came in 2010, when the program was renamed the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management after the founder of IMG.
The program enrolls approximately 500 students per year in the undergraduate program and approximately 125 graduates each spring. The graduate program was ranked #1 by SportBusiness in 2019 and has held second place in the publication’s rankings for the past two years. There are now over 350 sports management programs across the country.
“Being in Isenberg, the accompanying cache is huge,” McKelvey said. “We’re also a closed major, so you have to apply to get in. The quality of our students — it’s such an ambitious group year after year — is second to none.”
There’s a photo of former NBA commissioner David Stern speaking to UMass sports management students that resonates with faculty and alumni, as the late Stern was part of the Executive in Residence (EIR) program. ) of the program that brings high-profile personalities to campus each fall.
“It’s something that has really helped take our program to the next level, to have people of this nature lend their guidance and expertise to our students,” McKelvey said.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) board member Anita DeFrantz was on campus last October for the program, following in the footsteps of an impressive array of professionals, including Stern, Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman and former ESPN president George Bodenheimer.
McKelvey, who has been with the sports management program for two decades, said he always looks forward to a weekly email with updates on current and former students and the organizations/jobs they are pursuing. .
“This program has become a real pipeline in the sports world, and it’s something that everyone here is very proud to be a part of,” he said.
This list includes current grad jobs at places like Nike, the NFL, and the Philadelphia Flyers, and internships at companies like Elevate Sports Ventures, Wasserman, and Marquee Sports Network.
The program also dedicates resources to focus on the world of analytics, with a more global focus than ever before. McKelvey also praised the program’s work on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), as well as the work of Women in Sport Management (WISM), which was formed at UMass in 1992 to help women in the department.