Senate approves new sports communication major

In years past, communication students had to choose between the five concentrations within the department: journalism, public relations, organizational communication, advertising or electronic media.
Next semester a sixth option will be added to the list.
“We decided to add a sports communication concentration,” Communication Department Chairman Paul Gullifor said. “Sports is emerging as a scholarly field and there is a lot of student demand for such a concentration.”
The concentration, recently approved by Student Senate, will include five new communications courses with 42 required credit hours.
“Some of these new courses will be taught by existing faculty and some will be taught by new hires,” Gullifor said.
Freshman AEP major Ivy Hillman said she is glad the new concentration is finally going to be implemented.
“Within communication we have concentrations for everything except sports broadcasting,” she said. “There are a lot of jobs in that field.”
Although broadcasting will be an important part of the program, more material will also be covered, Gullifor said.
“There will be an emphasis on writing, sports promotion, theoretical and ethical courses, cultural influence, international issues and even a math requirement,” he said.
The new program has come a long way through an extensive approval process, Gullifor said.
“The idea originated in the department, then went to the chairperson, the college curriculum committee, dean of the college, a subcommittee and then finally to the floor of the Student Senate,” Gullifor said. “It goes through all these processes to make sure that it gets input from all affected parties.”
Gullifor said he is proud of the department’s accomplishment.
“It was a team effort,” he said. “Everyone worked hard on it.”
Now that the program is a reality, Hillman said she hopes it will have plenty of what she believes is the key to its success.
“The program needs a lot of internships with local teams like the Chiefs and Rivermen,” she said.
Freshman communication  major Sam Schumaker said he thinks the program will need other ingredients to be successful as well.
“I would like to see lots of enrollment, enthusiastic teachers and different events and speakers like all the other majors have,” he said.
Gullifor and the students are hoping the new concentration will give participants a leg up on finding a job within sports communication after college.
“This will give students an edge,” Schumaker said. “If you’re going into sports communication with just a general communication major, you’re not on level ground with the people you will have to compete with.”
Gullifor cleared up a misconception about the program.
“It will not be sports broadcasting,” he said. “It will be general sports communication and examine the social and cultural influence of sports in America.”
The specific requirements for entry into the program have yet to be decided, but there will be an application process, Gullifor said.
“Sports is a big cultural force that we can no longer ignore,” he said.