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Sport Management program

Undergrad major

Learn the business side of sports.

Sport managers help plan, organize, and implement the nearly $500 billion sport industry. As one of two public universities in Wisconsin that offer a Sport Management major, UW-La Crosse’s program is focused on providing practical experiences, teaching best practices, and building conceptual skills to be leaders in the sport industry.

UWL’s reputable program and strong alumni network have helped graduates find successful careers in a highly competitive sports industry for more than three decades, including positions with the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin Badgers, Milwaukee Brewers and many more. 

Careers in sport management

One of the oldest programs in the nation, UWL’s Sport Management Program has been a major at UWL since 1986. Alumni from the program have impacted the sport industry both nationally and internationally. 

Sport Management is also an attractive major for those considering graduate studies.

UWL graduate careers

  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Chicago Fire Soccer Club
  • Georgia PGA
  • Green Bay Packers
  • Indiana University Bloomington
  • International Paralympic Committee
  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Milwaukee Brewers
  • Minnesota Golden Gophers
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Minnesota Twins
  • Ohio State University
  • Sacramento Kings
  • South Texas PGA, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Special Olympics Wisconsin
  • University of Denver
  • Wisconsin Badgers
  • Many more

Career paths

  • Broadcasting
  • Compliance
  • Event management
  • Facility operations
  • Financing
  • Fitness centers
  • Fundraising
  • Law
  • Marketing
  • Recreation management
  • Sales
  • Social media
  • Sport information
  • Sport psychology
  • More

What distinguishes UWL’s Sport Management Program?

Reputation as a great value school

UWL is ranked in the top 20 colleges for Return on Investment by Great Value Colleges, the only Wisconsin university to appear on the list. Also, U.S. News & World Report has ranked UWL as the No. 1 comprehensive university in the UW System on the national universities ranking.

Small class sizes

UWL boasts at 19:1 student-faculty ratio. Just over 90% of classes have fewer than 50 students, leading to a strong relationship between faculty and students with individualized attention.

High-profile internships and job opportunities

Students complete the program with an internship. They select from a wide variety of high-profile sports organizations. The strong historical reputation of UWL’s Sport Management program has helped students land internships or jobs with the Forward Madison FC, Packers, Bucks, Brewers, Milwaukee Admirals, Milwaukee Herd, the University of Wisconsin – Madison Badgers, Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, American Junior Golf Association, United States Olympic Committee, and more.

Gain practical experience in the La Crosse area

Students have opportunities to get involved in other practical experiences outside of class. La Crosse offers experiences that range from college sports and recreation to local sport organizations such as golf clubs, ski resorts, and youth community centers.

Flexibility to add a minor

A total of 120 credits are required to graduate with a bachelor's degree in Sport Management. These credits include general education credits, elective credits and credits in the Sports Management program. Students are encouraged to add a minor in areas such as Business Administration, Communication Studies, or Recreation Management, tailoring their studies according to their professional interests.

Join an athletic or rec sports team

The university has 31 NCAA DIII athletic teams that have accumulated 71 national championships. Those not interested in joining a UWL athletic team can still participate in sports. Roughly 85% of UWL students participate in one of the many recreational sports, intramural sports, and sport clubs on campus.

Mind and body is campus culture

UWL’s motto is “Mens Corpusque”, Latin for “Mind and Body.” While the university offers more than 130 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs, a focus on balancing mind and body is part of the university’s history and culture.

Notable alumni
  • Aaron Aanonsen (2005) – Director of Athletics, Wisconsin Lutheran College
  • Hailey Aderman (2016) – Athletic Director, Special Olympics Wisconsin
  • Nick Bernhardt (2006) – Athletic Director, The Boys and Girls Club of Greater La Crosse
  • Katie Ehlen (2014) – Director of Basketball Operations, Illinois State University
  • Scott Geary (2011) – Executive Director, Georgia PGA
  • Brian Gutekunst (2016) – General Manager, Green Bay Packers
  • Josh Moon (2003) – Athletic Director, UW-Green Bay
  • Amy Ufnowski (2004) – Communications Manager, ESPN
  • Krissy Zegers (2002) – Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and Stadium Tour Manager
Application is required

Prospective UWL students must first apply for general admission to UWL. A UWL cumulative GPA of 2.75 or better and 30 credit hours including general education courses is required to apply for the Sport Management program. Applicants must also earn a "C" or higher in pre-admission core courses (BIO 100 or BIO 105 or MIC100; and ESS 110)

The application process aims to help students gain professional experiences. It includes:

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Two completed job shadow or informational interview reports
  • Sport management related experience
  • Interview with a screening committee

Sample courses

ESS 110 Introduction to Sport Management This course exposes students to the profession of sport management. The course provides a broad overview of the sport industry, covers fundamental knowledge and skill sets of the sport manager, and provides students with information on specific sport industry segments for potential employment and career choices. Offered Fall, Spring.

ESS 421 Sport Operations Management/Event and Venue Management This course is designed to introduce students to principles and procedures for preparing, planning, operating, managing, and evaluating event and venue in sports settings. Students will gain a greater understanding of event and venue management and the total operation of sports organizations. Prerequisite: admission to exercise sports science - sport management emphasis; junior standing. Offered Fall, Spring.

ESS 450 Exercise and Sport Science Internship The internship is designed to be a terminal experience for students majoring in fitness or sport management (12 credits) emphases with an intensive supervised practical work experience. Prerequisite: fitness and sport management majors: all course work for the appropriate major must be completed and a minimum cumulative and major GPA of 2.75. Pass/Fail grading. Offered Fall, Spring, Summer.

ESS 145 Sport Management and Communication This course will cover fundamental knowledge of sport-related communication, including sport information as found in print and electronic media, personal communication, and social media. Sport management trends and issues include media, legal and sociological issues, crisis management, and employment options in sport communication. Offered Fall, Spring.

ESS 320 Field Experience in Sport Management Practical experience in a sport management setting. Experiences provided may include: sport event facilitation, budget preparation and monitoring, preparing contracts, checking eligibility, and marketing and promotion. Repeatable for credit - maximum six. Prerequisite: admission into exercise sports science - sport management emphasis. Offered Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer.

ESS 373 Media and Public Relations in Sport Management This course is designed to acquaint students with media and public relations practices that are incorporated in sport management. Included in the class are the responsibilities and issues that sport managers face on a daily basis such as PR management, crisis management, interviews and media conferences, legal and ethical dilemmas, and the production of sport media relations tools. The course emphasizes practical application of sport media and PR. Prerequisite: admission to exercise sports science plan - sport management emphasis. Offered Fall, Spring.

ESS 407 Sport Management and Society This course is designed to provide the foundation for an understanding of the ethical, social, cultural, and psychological aspects for the operation of programs in athletics, sports, physical education and fitness. The student will be able to identify current social, cultural, and ethical issues and problems and the potential solutions to these problems. Prerequisite: admission to exercise sports science - sport management emphasis; junior standing. Offered Fall, Spring.

ESS 410 Legal Implications of Sport and Activity This course addresses the legal aspects for the operation and administration of sports programs, competitive athletic programs, and community and commercial fitness programs. Prerequisite: admission to exercise sports science - fitness or sport management emphasis. Offered Fall, Spring.

ESS 445 Planning Facilities for Physical Activity and Sport A study of planning techniques concerning facility development and maintenance for schools, athletic clubs, fitness centers and professional sport organizations. This course is taught largely at an undergraduate level. Graduate students will have additional course requirements/expectations. Prerequisite: admission to exercise sports science - sport management emphasis; junior standing. Offered Fall, Spring.

ESS 447 Administration in Fitness and Sport The course will cover principles of administrative theory and practice in the fitness and sport industry, including general administrative functions, public relations, personnel, budget and finance, facility management, and evaluation techniques. Prerequisite: admission to exercise sports science major - fitness or sport management emphasis. Offered Fall, Spring.

ESS 448 Promotion and Development of Fitness and Sport Programs This course will provide understanding of and skill in the promotion process as it relates to advertising and public relations activities for the operation of programs in sport, physical education and fitness. Primary focus will be on the application of promotion principles to specific sport scenarios. Prerequisite: MKT 309, admission to exercise sports science major - fitness or sport management emphasis. Offered Fall, Spring.

ESS 449 Seminar in Fitness/Sports Management An in-depth orientation to the required senior internship experience. Required course to be taken one semester prior to internship. Prerequisite: GPA of 2.75 (cumulative and major); admission to the exercise sports science major - fitness or sport management emphasis; senior standing. Offered Fall, Spring.