Implementation of a Sport Management Major Within an Undergraduate Exercise and Sport Science Department


The purpose of this investigation was to develop an orderly process of implementing and establishing a sport management major within an undergraduate exercise and sport science department. This research examined and evaluated established, university-based, accredited undergraduate sport management programs within the United States. It was an empirical study of developmental occupational competencies and areas of curriculum content, in terms of the relative importance of their inclusion in a sport management major.

A survey instrument developed by the researcher was employed to rank 30 competencies factors and 30 curriculum factors that might be included in a sport management major. The instrument was developed using the literature, a panel of experts, and a pilot study in which Cronbach’s alpha coefficient was employed to test the validity and internal consistency reliability of the instrument. The survey instrument was e-mailed to the coordinators of 71 university-based, accredited undergraduate sport management programs. Although 50 program coordinators returned the instrument, 2 surveys were incomplete and could not be used; 48 of the 71 instruments distributed thus were utilized in the research (67.6% response rate).

The statistical analysis for this research included descriptive statistics to analyze the rankings of each of the competencies and curriculum content selections, as well as factor analysis to determine curriculum development based on these selections. The method of factor extraction used was the principal component method, and the method of rotation employed was the varimax rotation. Frequencies, percentages, means, mean rankings, and standard deviation were the descriptive statistics utilized. The factor analysis investigated areas within the competency and curriculum selections that demonstrated a high degree of correlation and thus could be identified as clusters.

The ranked order of the competency and curriculum selections, the results of the factor analysis, a review of literature, the compared responses of the sport management department coordinators, and the use of NASPE/NASSM Sport Management Program Review Council standards have all served as guidelines for the investigator’s development of a sport management major. The major has been designed to provide students with the educational background necessary to function effectively as professionals in a dynamic and multifaceted sport management setting, while meeting the needs of a contemporary sport industry.

Implementation of a Sport Management Major Within an Undergraduate Exercise and Sport Science Department

In decades past, many college and university physical education programs concerning professional preparation and career development placed an emphasis on coaching and teacher training curricula. But the area of physical education has expanded rapidly in recent years, with a resulting proliferation of dynamic physical education career possibilities. Demand for teachers and coaches is ongoing, but there is also a growing need for qualified sport professionals in the area of sport management.

Professional positions in sport require knowledge, skill, and ability beyond even what is represented by a degree in physical education. Many colleges and universities have established undergraduate and/or graduate sport management programs in an effort to provide the requisite knowledge, training, and field experience to students planning careers in the managerial and administrative portions of the sport industry. Other colleges and universities are just now choosing to implement such programs to keep pace with student interest in the sport industry. This study grew out of one institution’s decision to launch a sport management program, seeking to identify a sound process and method to implement the undergraduate  major field of study within its department of exercise and sport science.


Participants in the study included 48 out of 71 coordinators of established, university-based, accredited undergraduate sport management programs within the United States who were electronically sent a study questionnaire (return rate of 67.6%). The instrument completed and returned by the 48 sought to identify the competencies and curriculum content thought necessary for implementing and establishing a sport management major. The instrument, titled the Sport Management Questionnaire, was developed by the researcher through an identification of concepts and review of literature. A panel of experts assessed the development, reliability, and validity of this instrument, which asked respondents to rate how important each of a number of competencies and curriculum content areas was. The ratings were to reflect the participants’ expertise and experiences relating to their institutions’ undergraduate sport management programs. Ratings were assigned using a 5-point Likert scale (Leedy, 1997), with anchors ranging from 1 (not important) to 5 (critically important). The research involved 60 dependent variables, 30 reflecting competencies and 30 reflecting curriculum content. Statistical analysis performed during the research included (a) descriptive statistics concerning ranking of competencies and curriculum content; (b) factor analysis determining curriculum development based on competencies and curriculum content, and (c) reliability analysis testing the reliability of the instrument. Statistical significance was accepted at an alpha level.


Mean Range, Competency Items

Table 1 indicates the pattern of total mean ranges of competency items indicated by the program coordinators; the mean values were obtained for each of the 30 competencies items, from 48 respondents. The mean values ranged from a high of 4.79 (Item 2, communication skills) to a low of 2.21 (Item 9, designing fitness programs).

Table 1

Mean Range, Frequency, and Competency Items

Program Coordinators
Mean Range Competency Items Frequency
> 4.500 2, 11, 17, 23, 24
4.000 – 4.499 1, 10, 14, 16, 18, 20, 29, 30
3.500 – 3.999 3, 13, 15, 21, 22, 25, 27, 28
3.000 – 3.499 6, 12, 26
2.500 – 2.999 4, 5, 19
2.000 – 2.499 7, 8, 9
< 1.999 N/A

According to the participating program coordinators, the top five competencies that should be included in a sport management major are, in order,

  1. communication skills (Item 2) and making decisions (Item 23)
  2. organizing or managing time (Item 24)
  3. developing long- and short-range goals (Item 11)
  4. computer skills (Item 17)
  5. hiring and supervising staff or personnel (Item 18)

Mean Range, Curriculum Content Items

Table 2 presents the pattern of total mean ranges of curriculum content items indicated by the program coordinators; the mean values were obtained for each of the 30 curriculum content items, from the 48 respondents. The mean values ranged from a high of 4.71 (Item 17, sport and business management) to a low of 1.63 (Item 13, physical education curriculum).

Table 2

Mean Range, Frequency, and Curriculum Content Items

Program Coordinators
Mean Range Curriculum Content Items Frequency
> 4.500 10, 11, 17, 18, 27
4.000 – 4.499 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26
3.500 – 3.999 9, 16, 24, 25
3.000 – 3.499 15, 28, 29, 30
2.500 – 2.999 6,
2.000 – 2.499 14,
< 1.999 1, 7, 13

According to the participating program coordinators, the top five curriculum content areas that should be included in a sport management major are, in order,

  1. sport and business management (Item 17)
  2. sport finance (Item 18)
  3. legal aspects of sport (Item 10)
  4. organizational behavior and management (Item 11)
  5. sport marketing and promotion (Item 27)

Factor Analysis, Competencies

Factor analysis performed with the data from the participating coordinators identified 5 clusters of competency items with 53.0% of the total variation. Titles were assigned to each of these 5 clusters of competency items, as follows (Table 3):

Table 3

Competencies Clusters and Variance Accounted for by Each

Cluster 1 Human Resource Management 12.60% of variance
Item 11 Developing Long- and Short-Range Goals
Item 14 Evaluating Job Performance of Personnel
Item 18 Hiring and Supervising Staff and Personnel
Item 22 Maintaining Personnel Records
Item 25 Organizing Students and Personnel
Item 29 Responding to Positive and Negative Feedback
Cluster 2 Leadership and Organization Management 11.35% of variance
Item 21 Knowledge of Sports
Item 23 Making Decisions
Item 24 Organizing and Managing Time
Item 28 Preparing Job Descriptions
Cluster 3 Marketing and Financial Management 10.55% of variance
Item 1 Budgeting
Item 2 Communication Skills
Item 6 Designing Advertisements
Item 16 Fund Raising
Cluster 4 Administrative Management 9.82% of variance
Item 3 Controlling Allocation of Resources
Item 19 Knowledge of First Aid and Safety Procedures
Item 30 Understanding Sport and Business Law
Cluster 5 Planning 8.47% of variance
Item 8 Designing Computer Programs
Item 9 Designing Fitness Programs
Item 12 Developing Personnel Training Programs

Factor Analysis, Curriculum Content

Factor analysis performed with the data from the participating coordinators identified 2 clusters of curriculum content items with 41.2% of the total variation. Titles were assigned to both clusters, as follows (Table 4):

Table 4

Curriculum Content Clusters and Variance Accounted for by Each

Cluster 1 Sport and Business Management 25.38% of variance
Item 2 Business Communication
Item 5 Consumer Behavior
Item 8 Human Resource Management
Item 9 Labor-Management Relations
Item 11 Organizational Behavior and Management
Item 12 Personnel Management
Item 17 Sport and Business Management
Item 18 Sport Finance
Item 19 Sport Economics
Item 21 Sport Ethics
Item 22 Sport Facilities Management
Item 23 Sport Fund Raising
Item 24 Sport Governance
Item 26 Sport Leadership
Cluster 2 Administration of Physical Education and Recreation 15.83% of variance
Item 1 Applied Physiology of Exercise
Item 6 Fitness Management
Item 7 Health Education and Health Science
Item 13 Physical Education Curriculum
Item 14 Recreation and Leisure Education
Item 28 Sport Philosophy
Item 29 Sport Travel and Tourism


The results of this research allowed the investigator to develop an orderly process for designing, implementing, and establishing an undergraduate sport management major within a university exercise and sport science department. The procedures employed in designing the process included the following:

  1. The 10 top-ranked curriculum content and competencies items were incorporated in the sport management major.
  2. The results of factor analysis were employed to identify clusters of factors to serve as areas of emphasis within the sport management major.
  3. Existing literature was evaluated and considered during the design process.
  4. Curriculum standards set by NASPE/NASSM in 2000 were adopted as the foundation of the sport management major.


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Author Note

Michael D. Kerr, D.S.M.