History

Liberty University
Sport Management
est. 1991

Founding principles include:

  • Christ Centered Leadership, Education, Advising and Mentoring
  • Student-Centered Approach
  • Balance of Theory and Practical Application
  • Recognition Through National Certification
  • Building Long-term Relationships with Students and Sport Industry Contacts
  • Job Placement

"Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established" (Proverbs 24:3).

"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he" (Proverbs 24:18).

During a rainy night at a high school football game in the late 1980s, Dr. Dale Gibson had a vision.  

As Physical Education (P.E.) programs across the country were contracting, Gibson and Liberty University Physical Education colleague, Dr. Roy Yarbrough, contemplated alternatives for the Liberty University P.E. program. They envisioned a day when sport industry executives and administrators would look to educational programs to develop students with sport specific skill sets for their hiring needs.

Gibson and Yarbrough turned to colleagues Herb Appenzeller, Guy Lewis and Peter Graham at the University of South Carolina, and Dr. David Stotlar from the University of Northern Colorado for advice. At the time, there were still only a handful of sport management specific programs across the nation.  Their colleagues recommended a curriculum based on a new organization that was being formed, the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM), and the principles implemented by Dr. James Mason at Ohio University. Subsequently, in 1987, undergraduate "Sport Management Studies" at Liberty was born when the first course, Introduction to Sport Management, was offered by Gibson to an audience of 24 students. Dr. Greg Comfort, a valuable addition, joined the Sport Management Studies faculty in 1988 and assisted in launching the new program. By 1990, with the help of Liberty University administrator Dr. Robert Gaunt, the new Sport Management Studies curriculum was moving through the institutional approval process.

Gibson, who spent a total of 33 years at Liberty University, described the early years of the undergraduate program as "a labor of love."  This included traveling with Yarbrough, mostly out of pocket, around the eastern seaboard from 1990-1992 in an attempt to build relationships with sport industry executives. Why the extensive commitment of time and personal finances? Simple, because of one of the founding principles of the program was that "students come first." They wanted to ensure Liberty University students would have internship and job opportunities. The first official year of the Sport Managment major, written by Gibson and Yarbrough, was the fall semester of 1991. Current Sport Management associate professor, Dr. Phil Blosser, was one of four students in the first graduating class of Liberty University Sport Management majors in 1991.

Key SMGT Facts:

 

  • Five full-time faculty, one adjunct professor, two full-time staff and graduate assistants dedicated to serving sport management
  • Undergraduate, graduate and graduate online options
  • Undergraduate Bachelor of Science (B.S.) major with minors in Sport Management and Coaching
  • Graduate Master of Science (M.S.) major with cognates in Sport Administration and Outdoor Adventure Sport with thesis and non-thesis options
  • Graduate Master of Science (M.S.) major available online 

In 1996-1997, Liberty University was included in the first cohort of sport management programs approved by competencies established by NASSM/NASPE in 1994. Other institutions in the first cohort of sport management programs that completed the rigorous NASSM/NASPE approval process included Georgia Southern University, Temple University and the University of Northern Colorado.

In 2004, Dr. Scott Hawkins became the second person to chair the department. Now in its third decade preparing students for jobs in the sport industry, and under the leadership of department chair Dr. Vicky Martin since 2006, the Liberty University Department of Sport Management continues to grow with more than 300 undergraduate students, and has added a graduate residential and graduate online program in 2010. In addition, the program is currently transitioning to be accepted by the new national governing body for sport management, the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA), with a site visit scheduled for October of 2010. 

The following is a list of key faculty members who have contributed to the success of building and/or maintaining the Liberty University Department of Sport Management (SMGT), including their years spent at Liberty University, as well as the years working in the program/department:

  • Dr. Dale Gibson (Liberty 1971-2004), (SMGT 1987-2004)
  • Dr. Roy Yarbrough (Liberty 1980-1994), (SMGT 1987-1994)
  • Dr. Greg Comfort (Liberty & SMGT 1988-1999)
  • Dr. Beth Easter (Liberty & SMGT 1997-2002)
  • Dr. Scott Hawkins (Liberty 2001-Present), (SMGT 2004-2006)
  • Dr. Eric Cohu (Liberty 2006-2009), (SMGT 2006-2009)

To all those faculty, staff and administrators that came before us: thank you for your passion, your sacrifices, your vision and for laying the foundation of the house. We embrace the privilege and responsibility associated with serving as representatives of Liberty University and the Department of Sport Management.