Q: So there’s no s? It’s really “Sport Management” without the s in “Sports”?
A: Yes. Referring to it as “sport” broadens the scope and allows us to discuss cultural and social issues as well. If it’s “sports,” you’re only talking about athletic contests. Sport Management is a business major for anyone who wants to be involved in a career that incorporates the sporting world with the business world. People entering the career can be anything from an athletic director at a high school or college, an owner or manager of a fitness center, coach at any level, or work for a sports team, a sports agency, a sports arena. To give you an example of what goes on in our classes, just yesterday we were looking at the national decline in the number of kids playing pick-up basketball games and what had always been known as recreational sports.
Q: And what is it, an (Associate of Applied Science)?
A: Yes it is. We have a very strong relationship with Seton Hall, Rutgers and Fairleigh Dickinson for our students who transfer and are accepted as juniors with our degree. In fact, Fairleigh has a special arrangement where they complete an associate with us and then can go to Fairleigh and in three years earn a bachelor’s as well as a master’s in Sports Administration.
Q: And it’s pretty popular?
A: We have about 170 majors.
Q: And you don’t want them thinking like jocks?
A: My students understand that from day one of my classes we are always looking to go beyond the highlight films. Students in the program investigate a world that transcends sports, that sports is much more than scores and standings and ESPN highlight reels. All of the issues you see on the news today—racism, domestic violence, college sport scandals and catastrophic brain injuries—are integrated into their studies.
Q: But are you a jock?
A: Well, I went to Long Island University in Brooklyn on a golf scholarship and received a degree in History. The department was very small and gave me individualized attention—which is one of the things I like about working at Union, by the way, which is the way we can help students on a personal level the way a small college does, such as by helping them register for the right classes and plan out what they want to do when they earn their associate degree and beyond.
Q: But the golfing…doesn’t that make you sort of a jock?
A: Hardly. My best handicap was 10 and now I couldn’t even guess what I am. In fact, after LIU, from 1995-2000, I actually studied to be a Roman Catholic priest but the Lord ultimately led me in a different direction. I was studying for my master’s in Philosophy and Theology at a seminary in Yonkers, New York, but then after receiving the master’s, I left to do pastoral and teaching work all the way out in Bellevue, Iowa, at a Catholic parish, St. Joseph’s. I was the director of religious education at St. Joseph's and also worked at Marquette High School.
Q: So how’d you wind up here at Union?
A: My father was having health issues so I returned east to Old Bridge for him. Then I saw an ad in a newspaper for an assistant golf coach. It was October of 2002, and I remember like it was yesterday sitting in Bill’s (Biology Professor Bill Dunscombe’s) office. That first year, assisting Bill, we had one of the best golfers we ever had, Marc Henkel, who’s now a school teacher, by the way.
Q: But from assistant golf coach to coordinator of Sport Management?
A: Well, it was eight-plus years ago the Business department was looking to introduce this new program, and I promised all involved that I would do my best to get enough students to make the Program successful. At the time, besides being assistant golf coach, I was an adjunct in biology, history and UCC 101. When I was interviewed, I was told, “Sports nowadays is so unethical, maybe we need someone with a religious background to teach this.”
Q: And hiring you obviously paid off big for the College.
A: We’re continuing to expand our Sport Management Program. Our Advisory Committee has been a tremendous help with suggestions to make our Program stronger. However, I will leave the meat of your question for others to decide. I do think that my background in philosophy and theology makes the counseling end of my work much more natural.
Q: So you’re celibate?
A: No (laughing). I met my wife Sarah in 2008, actually in Virginia at a coffee shop in a mall. We got married in 2009 and now have two children, David, who’s two, and Clare, who’s three months old. And neither of our families are celibate either. Sarah and I both come from large families. Between the two of us, we have 60 nephews and nieces, and they’re all reaching a marrying age, so just like the number of students in Sport Management, our family numbers are also continuing to grow.