By Phillip Milano
JU students will have a chance to enroll in one of the few comprehensive, accredited sport business programs in the country starting this fall, with cutting-edge courses in everything from the quantitative analysis popularized in the 2011 baseball film “Money Ball” to using Facebook and other social media to promote events and ticket sales.
Building its previous sport management degree program into a “true sport business” program means students will be able to take a core of rigorous, program-specific courses along with more traditional statistics, finance, accounting and other business classes, said JU professor Carol Dole, recently named the new duPont Chair of Sport Business at the University.
“These students are going to be well-prepared, with a strong background to compete in the sport business world for jobs,” she said. “We are positioned well in Jacksonville with all of our professional sports, Daytona and NASCAR nearby, the ATP, PGA, the Sharks, the Jaguars and more. We have a great environment for partnerships here that means these graduates are going to be coming out with hands-on experience and ready to hit the ground running.”
The degree program will be offered in JU’s Davis College of Business, which is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. DCOB Dean Don Capener said the latest subject matter in topics such as cost-benefit review and quantitative analysis will be taught.
Quantitative analysis has always been a key element in economics, but it’s now a major part of sport business, he noted. While economists have been doing economic behavior analysis for a long time, the approach was made popular in the business of sports after the success of “Money Ball” starring Brad Pitt, a 2011 film based on actual events in which statistics, evidence and metrics were used to assemble a competitive Oakland A’s baseball team.
Using quantitative analysis models is useful because change is a constant in business, said Capener.
“Financial models are key. Companies use them to decide on production levels, employment needs, productivity and inventory control. Professional sports teams like the Jaguars and major college programs now use these models, too.”
“Using business analytics from statistics and computer models, our students are trained to construct forecasting models and generate recommendations rather than go on ‘gut-feel’ or ‘hope for the best,’ ” Capener said.
Zach Greenwald, a JU Sport Business senior with a 4.0 GPA who is doing independent study while employed by the Atlanta Hawks basketball team, applauded the new focus on data analysis, statistics and social media by Jacksonville University.
“The sports industry is changing. Social media, data and ticket sales analysis, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) are all more prevalent,” he said. “People are realizing this system works for generating demographic information and sales leads. Dr. Dole understands the importance of technology and analysis in sports, and I’m 100 percent behind that. That’s the way the industry is going.”
Dole said in addition to the new curriculum, the endowed duPont chair comes with significant grant money from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund that can be used to bolster the program and enhance its offerings. More student and faculty travel, more off-campus projects, faculty research and conferences are envisioned.
For example, JU hosted its second annual Sport Conference in April in conjunction with the Jacksonville Sports Medicine Project, mainly serving Duval County athletic directors and coaches. The conference offerings and speakers were limited due to budgets, but the duPont endowment means it can be broadened and strengthened, with more regional attendees and speakers, Dole said.
“I can envision it becoming a full Sport Business conference attracting participants from amateur and professional levels from around the state and Georgia.”