(UMass Amherst is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)
There are very important strides that are currently being taken to encourage gender equality in the sports industry. There is also much work to be done in this area, as many teams, leagues, brands, agencies and associations continue to skew heavily towards male positions of leadership.
Some of the meaningful strides taking place are occurring in academia, as programs specializing in sports management education become more intentional and proactive about both recruiting more female students, and also working hard to build a pipeline between those students and the sports business industry, to ensure placement and opportunity.
One such example is WISE, Women in Sports and Events, Inc. and the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management within the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst recently announcing the creation of the WISE/McCormack Graduate Scholars Award Program. The Program will provide two WISE members the opportunity to further their education by receiving tuition-free and Graduate Assistantship-funded entry into UMass’ top-ranked master’s program. The announcement was made at the annual WISE/R Symposium in the summer of 2019, and its impact is now being felt as UMass interviews and admits its newest crop of incoming 2020 masters students.
The McCormack Department of Sport Management at UMass Amherst was founded in 1971 and is currently ranked by SportBusiness as the #1 graduate sport management program in the world. Several tenure-track members of the faculty – most notably Department Chair and Endowed Professor Janet Fink, and Undergraduate Programs Director and Associate Professor Nicole Melton – specialize and carry research interests in academic areas such as diversity issues in sport, marketing of female athletes and women’s sport, and strategic diversity management in sport. Thus, the curriculum takes shape around these important issues, in addition to this newly formed Scholars Award.
Named for sports industry legend and IMG founder Mark H. McCormack, the program is one of the few graduate sport management programs housed in a business school (the Isenberg School of Management). Isenberg has also taken active steps in building a culture of inclusion, and this year will host its 7th Annual Women of Isenberg Conference, a day-long event that includes a keynote speech, 10 different panel discussions, 5 workshops, and a guided networking luncheon.
“We are both excited and honored to partner with WISE on this important initiative designed to further incentivize young professional females to pursue their advanced degree,” said Professor Steve McKelvey, Associate Department Chair for External Engagement and Graduate Program Director. “The breadth of WISE’s membership across the sports industry ensures that the recipients of this Scholars Award will be the future leaders we seek to attract to our top-ranked graduate program.”
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“As the leading voice and resource for women in the business of sports, WISE is thrilled to partner with the McCormack Department of Sport Management,” stated Kathleen Francis, national board chair and president of WISE. “Our mission is to help female executives succeed and this partnership will provide our members with an unprecedented opportunity to further their careers at the top sports program in the country.”
The WISE/McCormack Graduate Scholars Award Program will provide two (2) separate program opportunities for awardees each year for the next three years:
- One (1) admission into McCormack’s 2-year MBA/MS in Sport Management (dual degree) graduate program to including funding for all four semesters, as well as a stipend each semester for Graduate Assistantship work;
- One (1) admission into McCormack’s 1-year MS in Sport Management graduate program to include funding for both semesters, as well as a stipend each semester for Graduate Assistantship work.
WISE members in good standing will initiate the application process via wiseworks.org.
This partnership represents a substantial and meaningful step that will directly impact the makeup of UMass’s graduating class, but is still just one part of a larger journey aimed at cultivating increased opportunity and gender equality.