Sport management students endow scholarship

Runners participate in the Mountain Heritage Day 5-K, which is organized by sport management students and faculty and supports a scholarship fund.

Runners participate in the Mountain Heritage Day 5-K, which is organized by sport management students and faculty and supports a scholarship fund.

After more than a decade of fundraising, Western Carolina University’s student Sport Management Association has accrued $10,000 – enough to endow a scholarship for future sport management students.

“I’m proud to say I was a part of creating something that will help deserving students in the future,” said Ray Martin, vice president of the association and a senior from Raleigh majoring in sport management.

The first scholarship, derived from the interest the fund earns, will be awarded in April 2014 to a student who is pursuing a major or minor in sport management, who has a GPA of at least 3.2 and who is involved with the Sport Management Association.

A.J. Grube, associate professor and head of the Business Administration and Law and Sport Management Department, said the achievement resulted from the hard work and dedication of many students and faculty members over the years. The Sport Management Association has hosted an array of fundraising efforts including events such as a silent auction, a golf tournament, a hole-in-one contest, a tennis tournament and a three-on-three basketball tournament.

In recent years, club members in collaboration with students in WCU’s event management and sponsorship course have organized the Mountain Heritage Day 5-kilometer foot race, which had strong sponsorship this year. The $1,500 raised through the event enabled the club to reach its fundraising goal.

“We’ve had varying degrees of success on different events, but it’s always been a good experience for the students to put on a sporting event and become familiar with marketing, sponsorship, basic operations, safety and security – all of the pieces of an event that participants might not see,” said Grube.

Organizing the event is challenging, said Zach Jordan, president of the Sport Management Association and a senior from Warren, Ohio, majoring in sport management with a minor in marketing.

“We had about six weeks to put it together, and we could have used a couple of months,” said Jordan. “It’s a very long process, but it came out to be a great race.”

David Tyler, a faculty adviser for the Sport Management Association and an assistant professor of sport management, said about 40 students in his fall class worked in four teams on the event. One group, which focused on participants, handled aspects such as recruiting runners, designing and ordering T-shirts, coordinating registration and conducting a post-race survey. A second team focused on results – tracking times, running the awards ceremony and recognizing runners. A third team focused on sponsorship and revenue, developing a pitch book and seeking support from community members and businesses. A fourth team focused on race course logistics, such as planning the route and water stations.

The project, which served as a point of reflection for the rest of the semester, gave students experience that may help them in their careers in the field, whether they work for a team putting on events, plan events for a community recreation center, or work for a college or university hosting a game, said Tyler.

“Even if the students do not go into event planning, they gain experience in project management,” said Tyler. “They have to think about all of the different tasks that need to be done to achieve their goals and what it is going to take to achieve those goals. They have to effectively communicate with each other, with other groups and with their peers to put on the event. They combine a lot of skills and knowledge they learn in other classes, from working with budgets to general management.”

This year, to enhance continuity and knowledge transfer, students in a spring sport marketing course already have started working on aspects of the Mountain Heritage Day 5-K to be held Saturday, Sept. 28, said Tyler.

Jordan said he’s glad students will continue to grow the scholarship fund.

“We worked very hard to get that scholarship up to the $10,000 mark, and it’s a reflection of the work everyone puts in to the sport management program we have at Western and the Sport Management Association,” said Jordan. “It’s exciting to have the scholarship and give back to other students.”

Chancellor David O. Belcher during his March 2012 installation address identified raising funds for endowed scholarships as the top philanthropic priority for WCU. For more information about supporting or creating a scholarship, contact the WCU Office of Development at 828-227-7124 or visit