Nontraditional Business Careers: Sports Management
Jefferson business students can enter every industry, from finance to fashion. In this new Nexus series, we’ll highlight some nontraditional business career paths, kicking off with sports management. Read how two recent graduates work for professional sports teams and how Jefferson launched a sports management minor this past spring to address the growing interest.
Stys, who played for the Rams softball team, went on to complete her MBA in 2021 while interning with Jefferson’s athletics department. She now works for the Arizona Cardinals.
“The rigorous schedule of a student-athlete certainly prepared me for my post-grad life,” says Stys, noting how much she learned from the athletics department staff.
Back in Tempe, Stys is an account executive in partnership marketing, working on the client services side of corporate partnerships for the organization. “It’s a dream come true working for an NFL team,” she says.
A career highlight? Super Bowl LVII between the Eagles and Chiefs in her hometown stadium.
“We had a ton of clients in town in the months leading up to the game, planning events, appearances and promotions,” Stys says. “As a department, we assisted with many of their projects from a Cardinals’ perspective. I was fortunate enough to attend the game while hosting a group of clients. Who knows if I’ll make it to another Super Bowl, so it was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Fellow double alum Quinn Haba graduated with her MBA in 2022 after completing her marketing degree. Like Stys, Haba was a student-athlete, playing soccer at Jefferson. She landed a job as an associate of consumer products for the New York Mets last year.
“I absolutely love it,” Haba says. “My department operates all retail and memorabilia. We collaborate with huge brands like Nike and New Era and work with everyone in our organization, including the players. The most gratifying aspect is all net proceeds from our memorabilia sales go to the Amazin’ Mets Foundation to benefit the community in Queens.”
When asked about her favorite part of the job, Haba says, “Being hands-on at every single home game, all 81 games a year.”
Students in the sports management minor have networked with representatives from the 76ers, Eagles, Flyers, NASCAR, Major League Baseball and more.
Haba credits the Jefferson faculty for helping her pursue her dreams. “I’m so grateful to them for encouraging me,” she says. “During college, I interned with the National Lacrosse League, and it definitely helped launch my career.”
She adds that while working in professional sports is her passion, it’s not for the faint of heart: “It’s the job a million people want. It’s a ton of work, but it’s worth it.”
Because of students like these and the industry’s competitive nature, Jefferson built an entire curriculum dedicated to sports management.
“I’ve been an athlete my entire life and also worked in professional sports,” says Bethany Ragusa, coordinator of the new sports management minor and director of student services for Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce. “When I started working in higher education with student-athletes, I realized how many aspired to work in the sports industry after college. We developed this minor in the School of Business to provide them the necessary resources and networking opportunities to break into this field.”
Launched in spring 2023 in collaboration with the College of Humanities and Sciences, the minor is open to all undergraduate majors. The program offers students an overview of foundational concepts within the sports, leisure, recreation, and health and wellness industries. It’s geared toward students interested in developing the knowledge and skillset to plan, execute, manage and evaluate sports organizations, events, consumers and promotions.
Ragusa has ambitious plans for her students, including showcasing the many possible career paths, she says. “While the coursework is really valuable, I’ve used my network to bring various sports professionals into class to share their real-life experiences.”
She has connected her students with representatives from the 76ers, Eagles, Flyers, NASCAR, Major League Baseball and local figures like the School District of Philadelphia director of athletics.
“This industry is growing dramatically, and I love the University’s commitment to fostering this passion through its curriculum so students can turn their dreams into reality,” Ragusa says.
These sports management classes have helped me explore my interests and discover there are a ton of careers in sports I have the skills to pursue. –Student Samuel Bass
“When I’m around sports, it doesn’t feel like a job,” says Bass, who covers the Atlantic Coast Conference for the sports publication College Basketball Review.
Playing professional baseball is his top priority. However, if that doesn’t work out, he plans to continue in the sports world, perhaps becoming a beat writer or working in public relations for a professional sports team.
“These sports management classes have helped me explore my interests and discover there’s a ton of careers in sports I have the skills to pursue,” Bass says.