USC COO/CFO Steve Lopes Discusses The Impact Of The Sports Management Institute

October 26th, 2017 | by College AD
USC COO/CFO Steve Lopes Discusses The Impact Of The Sports Management Institute
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One of the best-kept secrets in college athletics is nearing its thirtieth year of preparing men and women across the county for the next step in their careers. Launched in 1989, the brainchild of former Southern California and South Carolina athletic director Mike McGee the Sports Management Institute through executive education and training has quietly helped hundreds of men and women prepare to become athletic directors.

CollegeAD recently had the opportunity to sit down with USC Senior Associate Athletic Director (COO/CFO) and Sports Management Institute Program Director Steve Lopes to learn about SMI’s origins, its mission, and how it works.

CollegeAD: Where did the idea for the Sports Management Institute come from?

Steve Lopes: This whole idea was Mike McGee’s concept. He played football at Duke, became the football coach at Duke and then after being let go by Duke he decided to enroll in grad school. He went to graduate school at North Carolina where he wrote a dissertation that was really way out ahead of his time in the 70’s. His dissertation was about what the qualifications are for someone to become an athletic director.

In those days he was sort of doing what most people did, people who become athletic director come out of the coaching ranks and moved from being a coach to an athletic director and in many cases they were doing both jobs.

In 1989 while he was at USC, McGee went to his colleagues Dick Rosenthal at Notre Dame and John Swofford at North Carolina and proposed creating this Sports Management Institute, an executive education/executive training program for people who inspired to become athletic directors.

That’s really the basis of the program and why they felt it was is to tie this Institute not just the athletic department of those school but also the business schools of those schools. To this day that relationship is still the basic tenet of SMI.

CAD: SMI is currently composed of six institutions, how did the SMI grow from three institutions to the current six members?

SL: When Mike went to South Carolina, we transitioned a little bit and added the University of South Carolina to the rotation of schools that host SMI on their campus, it went from 3 schools to 4 schools.

But after Mike left South Carolina, they weren’t interested in hosting or being part of the SMI anymore, for whatever reason that. In 2000 Michigan and Texas began and Georgia became a sponsor institution in 2006. Now we have six institutions across the county: USC, Texas, Michigan, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Georgia.

CAD: What does the curriculum and workload consist of?

SL: The program consists of basically a one week in resident session in the summer taught by business school faculty on campus. The sessions that we teach are business related, strategy, legal issues, ethical behavior, public speaking, marketing, media relations, physical management, those kinds of things.

At the end of that one-week session, each participant will select a project that they will work on over the next six months. They will then go back to their institution, and work on their project. There will be an adviser assigned to them, to help guide them through the project.

In January they will come back for a three-day session. Typically, there will be another day and a half of class work and a day and a half of project presentations. At that point, the program is complete for that participant and they will receive their Certificate of Completion for the Execute Program of the Sports Management Institute.

We will be celebrating the 30th year of SMI in December of 2019.

CAD: With a limit of 25 participants per class, who are the ideal candidates?

SL: We’ve had people that come to the program that are already ADs at the DII and DIII levels. But for the most part, we’re looking for people who are in mid-level management positions and aspiring to be an athletic director.

Our classes are mostly made up of associate ADs and senior associate ADs at the Division I level.

Once applicants have registered the executive committee, which meets on a regular basis, will begin to review the applications.

You can learn more about the Sports Management Institute here.

Interested in applying for the Sports Management Institute? Click here

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