The Department of Sport Management and Media at Ithaca College has announced plans to dissolve the Master of Science degree program to keep up with the rapidly evolving sports industry.
The program was also cut in an effort to strengthen and focus the sport management and media undergraduate program.
Rob Gearhart, associate dean of the division of graduate and professional studies, said the decision came from within the sport management and media department, for which the number of faculty across both programs was becoming “stretched.”
“In the future you might think the next level of being competitive would be to have the master’s degree, but right now, that doesn’t seem to be the thing that drives what gets people jobs in the industry,” he said.
The program will end after the 17 students currently enrolled finish their six-credit internship over the summer or next fall, Gearhart said. The Office of Admissions is no longer accepting graduate applications for the master’s program in sport management.
Gearhart said the department informed all current students of the decision before publicly announcing that the master’s program would be dissolved.
The graduate program was launched in 2005 and typically enrolled about 16 to 19 students a year, Gearhart said. Because the M.S. degree in sport management is a one-year program, he said, while the program length is convenient, it isn’t able to provide a specialized education that meets the needs of students looking to find jobs in the industry.
The undergraduate program currently offers three degree paths for about 200 students: a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management a Bachelor of Science in Sport Media and a Bachelor of Arts in Sport Studies.
Craig Paiement, sport management and media professor and chair of the graduate program, said the decision to cancel the graduate program came after the department did a routine analysis of the curriculum.
“It was better to expand our resources into the undergrad program than spread them between two different programs,” Paiement said.
Annemarie Farrell, chair of the undergraduate sport management and media department, said IC 20/20, the college’s strategic vision for the next decade, prompted the department to look into bringing more alumni back as well as thinking about developing new internship programs and course options, like a class in globalization in the sports industry.
“This was an outgrowth of the kinds of things that IC 20/20 is asking the entire campus to do, which is where are we going to be,” Farrell said. “How are we setting ourselves up for future success? Essentially, this is just our department responding to that challenge,”Farrell said.
With one less program to manage, Paiement said, the department will have more time and energy to devote to the undergraduate program, which would include increased advising time, a lighter faculty course load, more planning for courses and additional opportunities for students to take advantage of, like short-term study abroad programs.
Though Gearhart said the sport management and media department may look into developing another graduate degree in the future, its focus is on the undergraduate level.
Paiement said the college hopes to stay at the forefront of a quickly changing sport industry that is becoming more globalized. He said there are increasingly more third-party agencies that plan events and negotiate media deals for the four main sport franchises in the United States — the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB.
While the college may lose prospective students without the sport management graduate degree, Farrell said, it’s important to focus on the positive aspect of the decision.
“It’s less about what we’re losing and more about where we can put our additional passion,” she said.