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JUNE 20, 2003
CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich at 661/664-2456 or

Score one for California State University, Bakersfield. The first sports management students graduated this spring, and like the coaches recruiting athletes, marketing professor Rich Campbell is already working to find new students. And he's not having much trouble finding them, either.

The reason? "It's a growth field," said Campbell, whose specialty is sports management. "Right now our program is relatively small. We have three fulltime professors, and visions of 100 majors in the program. But Bakersfield is a growing market for sports marketing opportunities, and we want to produce graduates who are knowledgeable and have expertise in the field."

Seven students graduated this year with sports management concentrations, and 39 are returning to the program, he said. And that doesn't count new sports management majors matriculating this fall.

The program, Campbell said, "is all about students. Most people who are fans don't have a sense of the business side of sports. Our students gain an appreciation of the business model that sports offers.

"And sports offers a lot of business opportunities. There are league jobs, public relations and advertising jobs, sponsorships. There are also management of venues, such as arenas and stadiums; athlete management, such as agents; municipalities with stadiums need someone to run them. So there are a lot of opportunities. Most students and fans are not aware of these opportunities. We prepare our students to succeed in those jobs.

"As we grow the program, students will be able to take advantage of opportunities in Bakersfield, Los Angeles, and other places, and that will reflect back on the program here."

Campbell said that current plans call for a sports-management speaker series in the coming year. "We want to bring in high-level sports figures once a quarter to speak on different issues," he said. "Plus we want our graduates to come back in years to come. Our graduates may only get entry-level positions in 2003, but in 2013, we'll be looking for them to come back as speakers and to support the program.

"Part of the appeal is that most high school students are not even aware of the opportunities in sports. Thanks to this program, they can get their business degree at CSUB and land a job in sports management. When people think of college they think English and math, but they don't think of a more specialized field such as sports management, or that they can get a bachelor's degree with a concentration in sports management."

Campbell said the field is relatively new, but is growing quickly. "When I was an undergraduate in the Bay Area, there were no such programs, so I got a degree in business at St. Mary's College," he said. "Then I found out about a sports management program at the University of San Francisco," where he earned his master's degree in sports management. While working toward his master's degree, he worked for the Oakland A's for two seasons as part of the game-day operations staff, and was also the sports information director at Holy Names College in Oakland. He began his doctoral studies at Ohio State University, and completed his doctorate at the University of Oregon. He then joined the faculty at St. Bonaventure University in southwestern New York where he taught for two years before coming to CSUB in fall 2002.

While there he began Team Bona, and plans to start a similar program at CSUB next year. "It's a student-run organization," Campbell said. "It provided volunteers for game-day activities for all sports. I want to start that here next year and coordinate with the athletic department." He said members of "Team Runner" could be any interested student, but thought it would likely be comprised of sports management students.

He sees a natural connection between the sports management program and the athletic department. "Students have a natural working laboratory in the athletic department," he said. "By coordinating our activities with athletics, we'll be able to create great experiential learning. It will be a great opportunity."

He said sports management students will gain an understanding of a very public industry that often bandies about obscene sums of money. "You'll see the effect of a national story, such as the LeBron James story, and see how it affects the local economy. Already the Lakers' exhibition in Centennial Garden against the Cleveland Cavaliers (who are expected to draft James) in October is prompting an increase in ticket sales.

"Our students will gain an understanding why LeBron James is worth $90 million to Nike," he said. "Our students are trained to understand why that is a good business decision for Nike. It's a fast-changing field."

For more information on CSUB's sports management program, please call Campbell at (661) 665-6217.

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