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Sports leadership and management expands to three majors

Miami University students interested in entering the non-athletic side of sports now have more options than ever with the expansion of the Sports Leadership & Management department into three separate majors.

A department of the College of Education, Health and Society, Sports Leadership & Management (SLAM) will now have students choose from sport management, sport coaching or sport communication & media as their area of study, effective beginning the fall 2022 semester.

Prior to this change, SLAM was a single overarching major where students would specialize in one of four concentrations – sports management, coaching, sports journalism and sports media. The new majors are expanded versions of these concentrations, each offering its own unique path for students.

Melissa Chase, SLAM department chair and professor, said this decision was made to account for the massive rise in interest in the major over the last several years.

“If you think back to 2012, we’re a brand new major. And around that time with our major in sports studies, we probably had 200 or less majors,” Chase said. “Well, SLAM becomes a major with these four different concentrations … It just exploded, and we have 500 to 600 majors, and with that we saw the need to say ‘Hey, we should change from concentrations to majors.’”

While the majors have overlapping courses and professors, they each offer unique opportunities for students who may find one particular section of the sports world more interesting than another.

Sports management

Sport management is focused on teaching business and operations skills, and is often paired with a major or minor from the Farmer School of Business.

“People who end up in sport management really are looking for leadership positions with a variety of sport organizations,” Chase said. “It could be professional, it could be collegiate, it could be nonprofit, it could be recreational or youth.”

Sport coaching

Sport coaching is, unsurprisingly, about giving students tools to lead teams of any skill level.

“We’re one of the very few universities in the country that offers majors where you could pursue sport coaching, and we did so because we have a very long history of preparing coaches,” Chase said. “Whether it’s undergraduate or graduate, our students pursue opportunities to become coaches at professional, collegiate or high school levels.”

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Sport communication and media

Sport communication and media is centered more on the intersection between sports and technology, with the department looking to the future of careers in sports.

“What we did is we took those two concentrations that were sport journalism and sport media and combined them, working with [the Department of] Media, Journalism and Film to offer a great collaboration of sport and media, but they also get some experience in taking classes that are more applied,” Chase said.

What the change means for current students

Students who chose SLAM as a major prior to this change will still be able to finish out their degree in their chosen concentration if they wish, but faculty are encouraging these students to switch into one of the newly available majors to take advantage of what they offer.

Sophomore Hayley Luby is one student who chose to make the switch, now a sport communication and media major.

“I’m more into writing and the media production side,” Luby said. “I took two media classes last semester – that helped me figure out what I wanted to do and make the change this year.”

Luby said the SLAM faculty has made the transition painless, and had only good things to say about her time at Miami.

“I’ve had nothing but good experiences, everyone’s willing to help you. All the advisors have been really helpful since it’s all new-ish,” Luby said. “I’m glad they came out with the sports communication & media major … I think it’s been a really good change.”

Shelby Wright, a junior sports leadership & management major, said she’s sticking with the original SLAM path.

“I did briefly consider the sport communication & media as a co-major, but it’s not really for me, that’s not really what I want to do,” Wright said. “I do have friends that have changed and they’re super excited that you can dive deeper into that versus just having one or two classes on the topic.”

Wright, who started at Miami as a chemistry major and later switched, was also emphatic about enjoying what SLAM has to offer.

“I changed my major to SLAM and now I’m at the right school with the right major, and it’s been such a great experience,” Wright said. “All of the faculty that I’ve worked with have been absolutely amazing, and they’ll go out of their way for you … I can’t wait to continue to be involved with SLAM and see more opportunities as they come.”

Student feedback is going to be a big part of the future of SLAM, Chase said.

“We’re really excited about these new programs. We’ve built it, now we’re waiting for students to continue to come,” Chase said. “I would say that would be the biggest thing is now watching our programs develop and operate, offering more and more opportunities for Miami students to get involved in sport in whatever way they wish.”