By: Travis Gorsch, @tgorsch3
Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Chad McEvoy, Professor and Chair of the Kinesiology & Physical Education Program at Northern Illinois University. Chad was gracious enough to have offered up his time and insight into the world of writing academic case studies, using your network properly, and gaining as much experience as you can in the sports industry. Chad has co-authored two textbooks with a second edition coming soon along with a third textbook. Chad is currently transitioning from a sport management professor role that he has held the last thirteen years to a leadership role as the chair of NIU’s program.
You have three degrees including a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management (Iowa State), Masters of Science in Sport Management (UMass), and Doctorate of Education in Sport Administration (University of Northern Colorado). What advice do you have for someone considering taking the same route educationally? What advice do you have about applying to these programs for prospective students?
“Typically the doctoral degree is a requirement for those that are interested in pursuing professor positions. This is not always the case but it is typical. For me, I didn’t go to undergrad thinking I wanted to be a college professor. I was going down the path thinking I wanted to be a Division 1 Athletic Director. I was fortunate enough to work in between my degrees and gain valuable experience. I enjoyed having that buffer between degrees to broaden my skill set.”
“I think a lot of things sport management programs look for in applicants are the same things people hiring for jobs and interns look for. They are looking for students with real world experience and who have built up their resumes. Networking would be essential just as you would advise someone that is trying to break in to the field. One thing I would encourage interested applicants to do is their homework.”
“If you are interested in applying to a program, really dig into how strong that program is. Is this program a good fit for you? Is the program one that is theoretical and research based or is it more applied and industry focused? Where are the graduates of the program at? What is their employment rate after graduation? Reach out to faculty at those programs and see if you can spend some time with them and get to know more about them.”
You started as an Athletic Marketing Assistant at Western Michigan University in 1995. How did you break in to the sports industry as a young professional after graduating from Iowa State University?
“Right out of undergrad I applied for the position at Western Michigan that was listed on the NCAA marketplace publication. I applied for it and found out later there were about 50 applicants for the position. I worked there for a year and had a great opportunity to go from a student intern at Iowa State to working full time and getting hands on experience. A big part of it was experience. I had done a lot as a student at Iowa State in terms of internships and jobs. My advice would be to get experience, get your hands dirty, volunteer for things, and find a summer internship or an internship on campus. I’m currently working on research regarding employment practices and asking employers the same question about what they look for when hiring applicants.”
You serve as the editor of Case Studies in Sport Management which covers topical areas including sport management, marketing, finance, and law. How can students and young professionals benefit from reading up on industry trends and current events in their pursuit of a career in sports?
“I think it’s important for students to be well read on their industry. If you are going to pursue a job in the investment industry you need to read the Wall Street Journal. The same thing applies for those trying to break into the sports industry by reading the Sports Business Journal and following sport managers on Twitter. The Case Studies in Sport Management journal is more geared toward faculty members that they can use in the classroom. It is more designed for faculty.”
Take us through the process of writing and publishing a case study in the Case Studies in Sport Management. How long does it typically take and how many people are involved in the process?
“Publishing a case study is similar to when a professor wants to publish research in research journals. We use a blind review process. A blind review process means that the names of the authors are wiped off the case by the journal editor. Then it’s sent out to reviewers who evaluate its worthiness for publication. They are experts in their fields. They give feedback and advise the editor as to whether or not it should be published.”
You have also co-authored two textbooks (Financial Management in the Sport Industry & Research Methods and Design in Sport Management). What are the differences in publishing a textbook compared to publishing a case study?
“Mostly the length. Textbooks are a really involved project. They can take months and even years to come together. I’m actually working on a third textbook with a couple co-authors. It’s a really involved process. It’s a little different style of writing as well. When I write a research article it’s written in a more formal language. A textbook would be written more towards student readers. It’s a little bit different style of writing. I try to make it a little bit more informal. I try to write it in a way that I would be able to talk about it in a classroom. It’s more about concepts and principles while weaving in examples to go along with it.”
You are also a part of many other organizations such as the North American Society for Sport Management, College Sports Research Institute, and Sport Marketing Association to name a few. How are you able to balance your time among these organizations, writing case studies, co-authoring textbooks and your roles at NIU?
“I have learned to be pretty efficient with my time in order to juggle the roles. You’re one part teacher, one part researcher, etc. I’ve also tried to be connected with the industry. You’re serving on committees. You have lots of different things on your plate. You have to become proficient and balance those things.”
In your opinion what direction are intercollegiate athletics department marketing efforts heading? How will this affect the revenue generation practices for those pursuing a career in sports marketing?
“A big future trend in sport marketing is in the digital space. Becoming more proficient in understanding social media, digital media, and advertising and bringing them all together and leveraging them as an organization. We still utilize traditional advertising and media but the trend is heading toward digital and social media as marketing tools. I don’t think marketing or the marketing principles has changed. As the world has become more digital it has changed how we operate and how we do marketing though. If I am trying to market a sports team right now to a younger audience, forty and under, I would use social media. When focusing on a 50+ year-old audience, I would use traditional media because that’s what they are reliant on. They are still reading newspaper and watching TV. You have to know how to market to each group. They are two separate audiences.”
“Getting experience is the first word of wisdom for students interested in the sports industry. I’ll emphasize the networking as well. It’s crucial to go out and build a network. Network doesn’t mean meeting someone one time and getting their business card. It’s got to be more than that. Stay connected and build a relationship. A network isn’t a collection of business cards or LinkedIn contacts. Go deeper and prove yourself to people. If you need help trying to get that first job in the industry and call someone you met once and ask for their help they may not be able to help you. If you’ve gone deeper and built a relationship with that person they are more likely to help you leverage your network. Can you use your network? Can you call someone up and have them help you get a job or make a new connection?”