Sports Management Students Present at National Competition

Posted on 5/5/2010 3:57:56 PM

Several IUP Health and Physical Education students were recognized on the national stage at the Scholarly Conference on College Sport, April 21–23, 2010. The department was represented by both an undergraduate Sports Administration team and a graduate Sports Management team.

The three-day sports conference and research case study competition was held at the William C. Friday Center for Continuing Education on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, hosted by the College Sport Research Institute and the Exercise and Sport Science Department.

UNC Case Study Team

Advised by Dr. Richard Hsiao, the IUP undergraduate team was made up of Sports Administration students Jake Dulick, Jeanna Kamphaus, Dan Killinger, and Sam Tullius. The undergrads competed against a large field of teams from across the country. This is their second year representing the department following a third-place finish in 2009. The undergraduates took their experience and expertise into the competition and, again, represented IUP extremely well.

The Sports Management master’s team included students Steven McCune, Kayla Rorabaugh, and Bob Smith, who were advised by Dr. Richard Hsiao as well. The graduate team took full advantage of their first appearance at the national competition and came away with a fourth-place finish. The team narrowly missed out on a chance to defend their case study for a second day among the top three sports management teams in the country. The finalists were Georgia State University, Ball State, and Baylor University. Ultimately, the winner was Baylor University from Waco, Texas.

The Study:

The case study challenged the students to make a projection for the University of New Orleans, whose Division I athletic program has been struggling significantly since Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of its facilities and drove thousands of students away, many of which have yet to return. Currently, UNO Athletics has been running at a near $1 million per year deficit in addition to $5.5 million in backed payments. They have been struggling to maintain Division I status, which requires a school to house fourteen varsity teams. UNO currently only supports eight teams, with permission from the NCAA who granted them a five-year waiver to do so. Due to lack of funding, support, and a student body that has been reduced by nearly 10,000 in the years since pre-Katrina, the University of New Orleans is currently in the process of downgrading from a Division I university to a Division III program. This has forced the athletic department to make one of three decisions—(1) drop all athletics at the university, (2) change divisions from Division I to Division III, or (3) raise millions for the department in the private sector.

The Challenge:

The challenge was given to save the University of New Orleans athletics program. The scenario was given that each team has been commissioned to conduct a study on the University of New Orleans athletics program to determine the best way to keep the program at Division I. The study had to include a situation analysis and problem overview, diagnosis, alternative solution scenarios, and recommendations.

The Solution:

The IUP master’s students suggested that UNO switch conferences from the Sun Belt Conference to the Atlantic Sun Conference in an effort to reduce travel costs and conference fees and to compete against more viable competition. They also recommended an increase in student fees to help cover athletics costs, and to begin an aggressive athletics fundraising campaign. The undergraduates, on the other hand, found that going Division III was the best way to save UNO. Defending their solution, they used examples from schools such as Birmingham–Southern, which recently made the same move in division status. They also backed up their claims by developing situations that allowed the Division III downgrade, so that UNO can become financially stable, in addition to recommendations of cutting funding by reducing coaches salaries, scholarships, and team travel costs.

In Addition:

Aside from the competition, the renowned conference gave the students an opportunity to listen to and learn from a variety of keynote speakers at panel discussions. Various topics in college sport were discussed, including a heated debate titled “One and Done: What is the Effect of the NBA’s Age Limit Rule on the College Game?” The panelists included Mr. Gary Williams, men’s basketball coach at the University of Maryland; Mr. Ken Tysiac, notorious sports reporter from the Charlotte Observer; Mr. Michael McCann, professor at the Vermont Law School; Mr. Shane Lyons, the associate commissioner of Compliance at the Atlantic Coast Conference; and Mr. Darryl Dawkins, former NBA player and one of the first student-athletes to skip college to go straight to the NBA.

This experience provided the students with an excellent opportunity to represent IUP. The students and Dr. Hsiao were also given a private tour of UNC’s basketball facilities by the director of Basketball Operations and assistant coach Joe Holladay. The tour consisted of a visit to head coach Roy Williams’ office, the players’ lounge, locker room, weight room, and an awe-inspiring tunnel walk-through onto the basketball court at the Dean Smith Center.

In addition to the case study competition, the conference and visit also sent IUP students away with a fabulous educational experience, as well as a very memorable tour of one of the most celebrated basketball arenas in the world. Congratulations to Dr. Hsiao and the Sports Administration and Management students!