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A Sport Philanthropy Education

ericshainock's picture

Two weeks ago I listened to a keynote speech given by Dan Migala. He framed his talking points around Walter O'Malley's teachings and his visionary leadership in creating the Ohio University Sport Administration program. Ohio University recently celebrated its 50th anniversary as a program. What has separated Ohio University from the pack is its strong alumni network that dates back decades, as it has held the first-mover advantage. By creating the first-ever program and maintaining a best-in-class curriculum, Ohio University has continued to lead the pack as the #1 graduate program in the world.

Fast forward, and The George Washington University has become a trailblazer in the Sport Philanthropy space. Teams have long had community relations departments and athletes have had personal foundations. However, the business behind the intersection of sports and philanthropy can no longer be ignored. Philanthropy can add to the bottom line and sports can amplify community/cause marketing initiatives to reach the masses. Alisha Greenberg, Todd Smith, in conjunction with GW, have created the first-ever Sport Philanthropy Executive Certificate. According to GW, this certificate provides an online experience tailored to the unique needs of those who work for professional sport teams, leagues, athlete foundations, sport-related companies, with an emphasis on corporate social responsibility. This is a 12 course certificate over a 5-month span. Curriculum includes a residency and the following courses:

-Identification of successful models of board governance and management
-Identification of legal risks and liabilities in the sport industry
-Acquisition of potential partners for collaboration
-Philanthropy Program Design
-Measuring Success
-Communicating Impact
-Team Building

By recruiting faculty with years of experience in the sport philanthropy industry, students receive real-life examples rather than a textbook education. The faculty are extremely receptive and are all leaders at their respective organizations. Each assignment can be customized to provide value to a student's current organization in order to help solve existing issues. Each cohort becomes a think-tank to bounce ideas and best practices off each other. After 3 full years, there are over 100 alumni currently working in this space. As always, a program is only as strong as the network of alumni within it. It's on those who have completed the program to continue to give back to current students and help mentor those just entering the industry. The willingness to help out when one sees an email with the subject: "GW Sport Philanthropy..." should be enough to prompt a response. With my interaction both within the Ohio University and GW networks, I have seen this similar theme, which I believe has led to its best-in-class reputation. Most important, the education and cohorts are top-notch, which allows all to continue learning and growing within the sport philanthropy field.

Eric Shainock works for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital as an Account Representative in the Strategic Partnerships division after previously working at Intersport, a sports marketing agency. He is a 2014 graduate of the Ohio University Sports Administration Graduate Program. Feel free to reach out via email: or on Twitter: @ericshainock.


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