(*UOnline is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)
For people who begin their professional lives outside of the sports industry, transitioning into that world isn’t always easy. Fortunately, arming oneself with the right skills and industry knowledge can make it attainable. Front Office Sports is proud to share the stories of UOnline alumni who have elevated their sports career by earning a graduate degree through the school’s online MSED in Sport Administration program.
Kevin O’Keefe earned a Master of Science in Sport Administration from the University of Miami’s online MSED in Sport Administration program in 2018. A former collegiate tennis player at the University of New Hampshire and a 2007 graduate of the Roger Williams University School of Law, O’Keefe worked as a public defender in Broward County, Florida, for almost two years before returning to New Hampshire in 2009. While he still currently works as a public defender in the Granite State, O’Keefe became intrigued by the idea of one day working in the realm of sports law. Some of O’Keefe’s former South Florida colleagues made him aware of UOnline’s program, which seemed like a good fit for his life.
“Sports are something that I have always been passionate about,” he says. “I always sort of thought about getting into sports law, but at the time I was in law school, there weren’t a lot of opportunities to get involved in that. That side of sports has become a lot more prevalent in the last decade, especially with NCAA litigation and and the advent of different types of marketing firms and all sorts of agencies and financial representation.”
A busy working professional and the parent of a young child, O’Keefe saw the opportunity to learn more about his passion with the flexibility that the online program offered.
“Being in this field for a while, I found it easier to manage my time. I got in a couple hours of class work here, a couple of hours there in the early mornings and at night. I never personally had an issue with having to request more time or anything like that, but I know that other people who did due to work schedules. The university was open to that as long as you gave them appropriate notice. But as far as the professors, I think they all were really receptive. You gave them a direct question, they give you a direct answer, which I appreciated.”
Additionally, over the course of the program, O’Keefe came to appreciate the classes that gave him a new perspective on the world of sports as well as the collaborative nature of the program.
“I’m not a person with a business background. So all of the marketing-related classes and the public relations-related stuff was stuff that I was learning for the first time. I felt like I was back in undergrad at times. I found that to be useful. The discussion posts were actually really useful to get other people’s perspective. You get to know your classmates over the course of the class and you see where they’re coming from.”
As he continues to practice law in New Hampshire, O’Keefe is actively networking within the sports space to gauge what opportunities are available, fit his background, and make sense for his life.
For anyone considering putting themselves through one of UOnline’s programs, O’Keefe believes being proactive allowed him to thrive and get the most of his time as a student.
“Communicating with your professors and other people in the program is key to try to make yourself visible because they don’t see you every day and have no real reason to remember you,” he states. “I think for me, going through law school, seeing how different people reacted and behaved in a different school environment and when to speak up and ask questions and when to not, I would just say you need to have a plan to make yourself stand out because you’re not going to see people every day like you do in a normal in-person environment. Don’t go in and think that just because you complete the work, things will be different or things will automatically change. You need to have a personal plan to go along with all the great stuff that the school offers.”