University adds sports management major

Cal Lutheran received input from Rams, LPGA, others

Bruce Gillies, an assistant professor of business administration who is an expert in sport psychology and team development, will serve as the first program director.

Photo: Brian Stethem

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Aug. 17, 2020) In response to student demand and its proximity to a major market in a multibillion-dollar industry, California Lutheran University will offer a bachelor’s degree in sports management starting in fall.

Sports was a $71 billion industry in North America in 2018, and was projected to grow to $83 billion by 2023, according to PwC. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects faster-than-average job growth for coaches, scouts and sports marketing managers.

Sports management is a growing field of study at universities. The number of people graduating with degrees in sports and fitness administration or management programs more than doubled between 2005 and 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Cal Lutheran launched a sports management minor in 2013, and in five years it became the fifth most popular choice among 42 minors.

“All of our sports-oriented classes are almost always full with a wait list,” said Bruce Gillies, the assistant professor of business administration who led the effort to launch the major. “Anyone who loves sports always wants to know more. More about the games. More about the marketing. More about the mental side of the game. More about the business of sports. It almost becomes more than a passion, an obsession.”

Most sports management programs are in the Midwest and on the East Coast, but California is a major employment base. Drawing on expertise in the region and beyond, the School of Management developed the Bachelor of Science program with input from more than 20 professionals. They included representatives from the LPGA, Western States Hockey League and the Los Angeles Rams, which has its training facility on Cal Lutheran’s Thousand Oaks campus. Many of the organizations have offered to provide internships and guest speakers.

Gillies will serve as the first program director. An expert in sport psychology and team development, he has served as the university’s faculty athletic representative, chair of the Athletic Policy Committee, faculty adviser for the Cal Lutheran Knights ice hockey team and faculty mentor for the football, soccer and baseball teams.

The curriculum covers sports from ethical, legal and global perspectives. In The Business of Sports, students will learn about tensions between amateurism and professionalism, strategies for developing athletic talent and the interaction of business and politics. The Sports, Media and Society elective will examine issues such as race, sexuality, consumerism and civic life. Other electives include Sport Psychology, Broadcast Sports Production and Sport Facility Design and Management.

“This major will help people engage in sports in a number of ways — recruiting, operations, retail, marketing and the fast-growing field of esports,” Gillies said..

For more information, go to