Sport Management

Learning the business of sport and recreation

The Department of Sport Management (SPT)* at Elon prepares students to plan, manage and sustain effective, sport and recreation experiences in private, public and commercial settings. There are emphases on entrepreneurship, marketing and management of various aspects of this dynamic and growing industry.

SPT majors and minors develop the necessary knowledge and skills to thrive in careers related to professional and amateur sport, event management and programming, intercollegiate athletics, facilities, hotels, resorts, travel and tourism. Through classroom and real world experiences, students develop an understanding of “service” and skills applicable to the sport, event and recreation professions.

The SPT program focuses on areas that include: sport, facility and event management, recreation and intercollegiate athletics. Within that framework, students build a foundation in philosophy of sport management, learn the fundamentals of business administration and sharpen their interpersonal skills.

“The Sport Management curriculum is complimented greatly by the opportunities and experiences that Elon provides. This, combined with involved faculty who are truly interested in their student’s success, prepares you to succeed in the sport and event industries.”

— Harrison Seeler ’10

Comprehensive curriculum

Elon offers a Bachelor of Science degree in SPT. Elon is one of a few institutions nationwide to effectively combine sport, event management and recreation, providing a unique and comprehensive career preparation.

In your coursework, you will learn about the role of sport, event management and recreation in society. Additional courses cover the fundamentals of facility planning and maintenance; important terminology, philosophies and the evolution of the sport management industry; relevant contemporary issues; principles of special event programming; and marketing. SPT majors also take classes that examine concepts such as finance, accounting, communication, research strategies, and legal issues such as contracts, personal and product liability, negligence and risk management.

Elon students benefit from small classes, close attention from faculty, hands-on learning through internships and special events, experiential programs and engaged learning. By the time you graduate, you will have the skills and experience necessary to pursue a wide range of career paths.

Experienced, accessible faculty

Faculty in the Department of Sport Management have years of varied, professional experience, and are dedicated to teaching and seeing students thrive. They are eager to help you find your professional path, or to offer assistance with course work.

Tony Weaver, department chair, has worked as a Division I athletics administrator, college and high school coach, and gained experience in financial organizations before coming to Elon University. These experiences, as well as his work as a college instructor, have strengthened his teaching skills and shaped his research interests. He serves as a member of several regional and national organizations and researches topics related to intercollegiate athletics.

Mark Cryan worked for more than twenty years in marketing, sales and management duties in the NHL, minor league baseball, amateur sports, recreation and public relations. He is the author of "Cradle of the Game: Baseball & Ballparks in North Carolina" (August Publications, 2008). Areas of interest and research include physical activity programs for underserved youth and the business of baseball.

Shaina Dabbs served as a Division I softball coach for five years prior to moving into academia. She is a former student-athlete and professional athlete and uses her experiences in college athletics to shape both her pedagogy and research. Dabbs has been a member of the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) since 2012 and has presented at numerous international conferences. Her research interests include diversity, work-life balance, and organizational behavior within college athletics.

Cara McFadden has worked in collegiate recreation programs with experience in facility operations, leadership, management, college student development and assessment. She has been an active member of the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association since 1998 and has presented at state, regional and national conferences. McFadden’s research interests include leadership, college student development theory, recreation participation and life span, and survey development and validation.

Hal Walker has worked in a variety of higher education capacities over the past 25 years with experience as a director of athletics, coach, consultant and administrator. He presents frequently at a variety of regional, national and international conferences, and is actively engaged in research and writing. He currently serves on several editorial, review and advisory boards related to the sport management industry.

“The SPT faculty excels beyond their titles as professors. This close knit group has grasped the concept of engaged learning as they continuously educate, mentor, and most importantly support and believe in the success of their students.”

— Rachel Trink ’10

Professional experience early

Elon believes that students learn best by putting their education into action. As an SPT major, you will have plenty of opportunities to do just that.

All SPT students complete a required internship during their academic career, putting the concepts and ideas they learn in the classroom to the test in the field. In order to more closely simulate the job search process, students conduct preliminary research and interview for internship placements and present a proposal to faculty for approval. In many cases, internships give students valuable contacts that lead to employment after graduation. SPT majors have completed internships and found jobs with organizations including:

  • Boston Celtics
  • Greg Norman Line/Reebok Clothing
  • Atlanta Braves
  • Olympic Games (Athens & Atlanta)
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Madison Square Garden
  • Wild Dunes Resorts
  • Miami Dolphins
  • Complete Ticket Solutions
  • Ritz Carlton Hotels
  • Orange Bowl Committee
  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • Carolina Panthers
  • YMCA
  • Parks and recreation departments
  • PGA and LPGA
  • U.S. Open Golf Championship

Professional contacts 

Students in Elon’s SPT program are encouraged to participate in activities and events with state, regional and national professional organizations. Elon is involved with the North American Society for Sport Management; National Recreation and Park Association; American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; National Intramural and Recreation Sport Association; Sport, Entertainment and Venues Tomorrow; and the North American Society for Sport History, among others.

After graduation

SPT students are well-prepared for a variety of careers and graduate studies. Most students go directly into employment in professional and amateur sport organizations; private and commercial sport, fitness and recreation settings; public parks and recreation departments; sporting goods sales and marketing; resort/hotel management; and various related entrepreneurial and traditional career options. Among the organizations that have recently employed Elon graduates are:

  • Walt Disney World
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Major League Baseball
  • Clear Channel Communications
  • Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs
  • Indy Racing Marketing
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Atlanta Convention and Visitor's Bureau
  • New York Islanders
  • Kiawah Island Golf Resort
  • Forest Oaks Country Club
  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • Orange Bowl Committee
  • Memphis Grizzles
  • Pinehurst Resorts

SPT graduates have also been accepted into some of the finest graduate programs, including:

  • University of Tennessee at Knoxville
  • Ohio State University
  • University of Georgia
  • North Carolina State University
  • Ohio University
  • Rutgers University
  • Georgetown University
  • College of Charleston

* Previously the Department of Sport and Event Management (SEM) and the Department of Leisure and Sport Management (LSM)


Communications majors ‘get connected’ at internship and career expo

The 2019 Communications Internship Showcase & ePortfolio Review drew 35 organizations to the School of Communications on Feb. 12 to meet with students seeking internships, employment opportunities and career advice.

Cara McFadden named NIRSA president-elect

Beginning May 1, the associate professor of sport management will oversee the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association, widely considered the leading resource for professional and student development, education and research in collegiate recreational sports.

From Bristol to Beyond: Winter Term class visits sports industry outlets in New York City, Connecticut and Argentina

During Assistant Professor David Bockino’s Through the Lens of ESPN class, students enjoyed a staggering media tour, visiting ESPN, Fox Sports, SNY, and the New York Yankees, as well as sports outlets and athletic venues in Bueno Aires.

Shaina Dabbs presents NCAA coaches research talk

The assistant professor in the Department of Sport Management was the featured speaker of the Women’s, Gender and Sexualities Studies Program Fall Faculty Research Spotlight held on Nov. 26.

Charlotte Observer article on sports betting features insights from Bill Squadron

Squadron, a visiting professor of sport management, offers his thoughts on what an expansion of sports betting could mean for tax revenues. 

CEL well-represented at ISSOTL 2018

Several Elon Center for Engaged Learning representatives presented at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) 2018 conference, including scholars from multiple CEL research seminars.

Sport management majors, Maroon Sports visit Carolina Hurricanes and PNC Arena

A group of nearly two dozen School of Communications students received a behind-the-scenes look at the operations of the NHL organization and its arena.

Alumni return to campus for ‘ElonNext,’ a panel about life after Elon

Homecoming weekend brought nine School of Communications graduates back to campus to participate in a live panel discussion, providing current students with advice on how to use their Elon experiences to enhance their careers.

Sport management team advances to final four of sport marketing competition  

A team of four Elon University students competed in a case study competition held Oct. 24-26 at the 2018 Sport Marketing Association Conference in Dallas.

Students share advice, experiences at Sport Management Internship Forum

The Sport Management Department hosted its annual fall internship forum on Oct. 1, featuring a lively panel discussion and poster session.