College of Business > News & Events > New Sports Business Major Supports Many Career Paths
By Nadia Alfadel Coloma | Photos by Kathy Hillegonds /
November 23, 2021 /
Posted in: College and Schools, Alumni, Faculty /
If you ask Andy Clark, director of the new
Bachelor in Business sports business major at the Driehaus College of Business, he’ll tell you that a career in sports isn’t just about working for a sport’s team. That’s one of the misconceptions, he says, that people have when they think about working in sports. In reality, there are many facets to the sports industry—marketing, management, hospitality, analytics—and a myriad of opportunities within it.
Sports is a business like any other, and it’s huge.
“I hear it all the time from people in the sports business community: recent grads know sports but not really business, or vice versa,” says Clark, who also teaches in the program, which launched in the fall. “What the industry needs is business-minded individuals who can apply their knowledge and skills to a sports setting.”
The new major aims to do just that. It prepares students for careers in sports by combining the college’s existing business core courses with experiential learning opportunities that leverage DePaul’s connections to the sports business community in Chicago.
Its three pillars are learning the inner workings of the sports industry; understanding how to apply business concepts and skills in a sports context; and learning how the business of sports relates to other industries and enterprises. The major expands upon a previously offered sports management concentration by encompassing all business disciplines. The result? A well-rounded business education that students can apply to a wide range of professional roles in the world of sports.
“We have alumni working at every sports organization in Chicago, including companies that have a sports function, like McDonalds, Wilson Sporting Goods and many sports marketing agencies,” Clark says. “So even though this program is new, we’re not new at teaching this stuff.”
Understanding the unique challenges and opportunities within the sports industry requires a deep dive into it. Popular courses like “Behind the Scenes with Chicago Sports Organizations” and the “Chicago Cubs Summer Consulting Project” expose students to different career paths and provide hands-on learning through real-world projects.
Another course that differentiates the program is the “Sports Sales Class,” taught by Associate Professor Rich Rocco in DePaul's Center for Sales Leadership, as sales is often a key point of entry for working in a sports organization. And whether a student goes into sales, understanding the ticket sales and sponsorship process if vital if they’re going to work for a sports organization.
The newest course in the program is the “Business of Esports,” a growing trend in the industry that’s opening up many new opportunities for work. According to Clark, it’s important to understand how esports fits in the overall picture if you’re pursuing a career in sports. DePaul opened its first esports gaming center on the Loop Campus a few years ago, and competes against other Big East Conference schools in two games, League of Legends and Rocket League. So, beyond this class, students have the opportunity to learn more about esports or just enjoy it on campus.
There are many other areas of growth within the industry that makes studying sports business a lucrative decision, from the expansion of sports betting—popular in Europe and now growing in North America—to other trends such as community relations and
social responsibility in sports, and business analytics and its application to the field.
“Teams, sports organizations and companies don’t necessarily want to hire sports fans. They don’t need more fans,” explains Clark. “They need students who understand a specific business discipline to help them in that space, and when you think about it that way, when you hone in on those skills and experiences, there are so many career opportunities to take advantage of.”
One alumnus who leveraged his degree to find success in the industry is Alex Teodosi, a 2016 graduate of the program (when it was a sports management concentration) who now works as the vice president of sponsorship for the 2021 WNBA Champion Chicago Sky. His degree provided the necessary launching point, he says, for working in professional sports. “Sports has always been a passion of mine, and for me, being a part of the on-field product is the next best thing to being on the field,” says Teodosi, who originally began at DePaul as a philosophy major and credits his eye-opening experience to Clark’s “Behind the Scenes with Chicago Sports Organizations” as the inspiration for his switching career goals.
“I was exposed to all facets of the business school when I was studying at DePaul, and that has been so useful in my career since my main responsibility at the Sky is to generate and retain our revenue streams,” Teodosi continues. “Another thing I really appreciated was how much emphasis Andy [Clark] placed on getting active professionals in the sports field in front of students. That paid off tremendously both for the connections that were made and for the experiences that were shared. Without these types of opportunities, I know my career path might have gone a different route.”