Taking the Steps to Succeed in Sports Business

smu masters of science in sports management

The Sports Management Program at SMU takes a unique approach to learning – and it’s working

Hitting a walk off home run, draining a 3-pointer at the buzzer or catching a ‘Hail Mary’ pass in front of thousands of adoring fans may not live anywhere but in your dreams.

The truth is, only ½ of 1% of US citizens will go on to be professional athletes and even have a chance at achieving that sense of glory.

But before you start feeling bad for the end of your professional sports pursuits, realize a Sports Management degree can allow mere mortals to get very close to the triumphs and accolades that only sports can provide.

Some Sports Management programs have come under fire in recent years for not truly preparing their students with the skills needed to survive in the competitive world of sports business.

A Different Type of Sports Management Program

One program is very different in their approach – and their results.

“Our Sport Management program is not based on the traditional model found at most schools,” says Michael Lysko, Director and Professor of Practice for the Sport Management Program at Southern Methodist University (SMU). “The biggest difference is that our faculty are all former executives from a wide range of sports industry segments. They all have advanced degrees and significant teaching experience. Most importantly however, is that they each have more than 20 years of sports business experience, which provides them with a level of insight and personal connections that they are able to share with the students.”

The one-year Masters of Science in Sports Management (MSSM) program at SMU takes a real world learning approach, with hands-on internship experiences, case studies and exposure to professors who haven’t been locked in a classroom for decades, instead they have been out in the field working and gaining real experience. Lysko himself fields phone calls on a weekly basis from sports industry executives around the country looking for good candidates for internships and full-time jobs.

An Emphasis on What Matters Most

The focus of the SMU Master’s degree is almost exclusively on sports business, which allows graduates to pursue senior level management positions in the multi-billion dollar sports industry.

“Our MSSM business courses are taught by full-time faculty at the Cox School of Business, one of the top business schools in the country,” adds Lysko. “Our curriculum, experiential learning opportunities, and strong relationships with sports organizations across the nation, ensure that our students are able to ‘hit the ground running’ upon graduation in whatever segment of the industry they pursue.”

Employers today are seeking more than just a high GPA and involvement in on-campus clubs, they require all of their hires to have the requisite skills and experience to make an immediate impact on their business, the MSSM program at SMU provides students with both.

SMU Masters  in Sports Management

Students of the Masters in Sports Management program at SMU gain real experience through exposure to the many sports teams the Dallas area provides

“Providing valuable marketing and sales experience for our students is a priority,” says Lysko, former commissioner of the Canadian Football League and current Director of SMU Sports Management.

“Last spring, we convinced Intersport to host the 26th Annual ESPN State Farm College Slam Dunk at the newly-renovated Moody Coliseum at SMU during the NCAA Final Four weekend. Our sport management students were directly responsible for the marketing, promotion and ticket sales, selling more than $10,000 of tickets to the event.”

A Geographical Advantage

The location adds to the overall impact of the SMU Masters program.

Based in Dallas, a top-five sports market, SMU Sports Management students are afforded unparalleled access to championship level sports teams and organizations.

“Through guest speaker appearances, symposia, field trips, consulting projects, student mentoring and internships, students have access to major professional sports teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars,” declares Lysko. “The DFW Metroplex boasts multiple Division I colleges, several minor league franchises, two PGA Tour stops, and world-class facilities such as the American Airlines Center, AT&T Stadium and one of the country’s top  NASCAR tracks in Texas Motor Speedway.

“Our region is also home to three conference headquarters: The Big 12 Conference, Conference USA and The Southland Conference, as well as the National Football Foundation, and the newly formed College Football Playoff headquarters.”

Professional sports teams and collegiate conferences aren’t the only sports businesses within reach of the Dallas area according to Lysko.

SMU Masters in Sports Managment Program

Symposiums and guest speaker appearances provide a unique learning experience for students of the SMU Masters in Sports Management program

“Dallas is also headquarters to many blue-chip corporate sponsors and leading sports agencies such as, The Marketing Arm, Genesco Sports, Hawkeye Sports & Entertainment and Haymaker, which now serves as the North American sponsorship consulting arm for Lagardere Unlimited.

“Our students have been involved with events such as the Super Bowl, the NBA All-Star game and the NCAA Men’s Final Four, just a few of the events that DFW has hosted in recent years,”

Upon graduating from the one-year program, students are prepared for a variety of possible career paths including:

  • Sports marketing
  • Management of professional, collegiate or amateur sport organizations
  • Representation of professional athletes
  • Sport public relations
  • Sport facility and event management

…and more.

For more information on the SMU Masters of Science in Sports Management program, follow this link.

And remember, nobody made it big by sitting on the sidelines.

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently, Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, do it.

And if you want to know where our privacy policy is before you submit your comments below, it's right here.


  1. Sean Matthews says

    One of my dreams is do own a minor league baseball team. What is the best way to go about starting on the right path?

    • Sean Matthews says


    • Sean – that’s one heck of a goal! The great thing about working in Minor League Baseball is they generally have samall staffs so you end up doing a it of everything and leanirng the entire operation. I’d look into jobs in PR, media relations or sales/operations with a minor league team, get your foot in the door and work your way up. Now as for getting the money togteher to buy a team…. you’re on your own there 😉 – Brian

  2. Brian, I commented and watched all of the Youtube videos and I am an aspiring junior in high schools wanting to wok in sports in college. A few questions: 1. Is there anything I can do right now (I already play football and am a sports editor over at Fansided.com) to improve my chances of landing a Sports Job in the future? I want to be a sports agent, but to be honest just like any teen wanting to work in sports any career sounds good to me. 2. There aren’t really colleges for sports management in California aside from USC, Berkeley, or Cal Poly which I can’t get into. So I am thinking I major in buisness at SDSU, one of the more-regarded buisness schools in the USA and get a master in Sports Management, or even an MBA. Would that carve the way enough? Thanks a lot

  3. Malcolm Bradford says


    In the midst of procrastinating for my capstone course’s first exam, I have stumbled upon several of your blogs and I must admit that it was procrastination well spent. Consider me now a loyal reader. I am currently a senior at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington pursuing a B.S. in Business Administration. My freshmen summer of college I was able to acquire an internship working with Community Relations and Marketing Dept. for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Since then I have permanently made up my mind that I want my future career to be involved in sports marketing, preferably with another NBA team. This passion for sports marketing has followed me throughout my years at college and before I depart from UNCW, my colleagues and I wanted to establish our school’s first Sports Business Organization. Our aim is to provide students who are passionate about sports and business with networking opportunities and learning experiences from the sports business world. However, we have very limited resources, man power, and sports business network contacts. Essentially we are starting from the ground floor, so my question to you is what steps should we take as an organization to increase our contacts and establish credibility.

    • Do exactly what you are doing – those of us in the business want to help motivated people like yourself (why do you think I have written over 150 articles on sports careers!) so keep getting the word out there about what you are trying to do and don’t be afraid to ask. For example, if at the end of your comment you said “we’d love to have you speak to our group and do a Q&A session, would you be interested” I would have said yes (and I still would). Reach out to people on Linkedin, talk to professors… don’t be afraid to start small, while still aiming big. And for god’s sake keep procrastinating by reading my material and sharing it with the world! – Brian

    • Malcolm Bradford says


      I appreciate your timely response and helpful advice. Words can’t explain how extremely helpful and motivational it would be for my organization to benefit from a Q & A session with you. We are extremely flexible and willing to accomadate your schedule in any way.
      Feel free to email me at mjb4774@uncw.edu to further discuss, and I look forward to hearing from you.

  4. Omar Mariduena says

    Hi Brian,
    Thank you for taking the time to review my question and congratulations on a successful career and practice.
    I have been a retail operations manager for over 15 years and in the retail industry for 22 years. What type of position should I look into if I wanted to switch careers and go into sports management or sports media operations.
    Thanks again.