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Columbia Sports Management Graduate Program Begins Spring Semester With Focus On The Global Business Of Soccer

New Courses On The Business Of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, Analytics Program With OptaPro Among Unique First-Time Offerings In The World’s Third-Ranked Sports Business Program

NEW YORK— Columbia University’s Sports Management graduate program has begun its first few weeks of spring classes continuing to grow its influence with the unique offerings that have made the program a world class leader in sports business education. Ranked in the top three graduate sports management programs in the world, the program is now taking an in-depth look at the business of soccer with some of the most original offerings ever, including the anticipated activation of its partnership with FC Bayern Munich, one of the world’s largest and most successful soccer clubs and sports businesses.

“Our fall semester was one of tremendous growth and learning, and we are looking forward to the spring to help carve out another new initiative focusing on the global business growth of soccer and how it ties to the sports landscape around the world,” said Vince Gennaro, now in his second year as director of the Ivy league’s only graduate program in sports management. “The partnership with Bayern Munich and other new classes will give our students a unique look into the business of the world’s most popular sport, and will help position our students as future thought leaders in an increasingly complex sports industry.”

In addition to the traditional rigorous course offerings already on the schedule, this semester has taken on a unique focus around the global game of soccer. The course, “Real Madrid: The Integration of Identity, Strategy, and Culture” — taught by the author of the forthcoming book on the subject, Dr. Steven Mandis, will be one of the most intriguing studies of a professional sports club ever discussed in an academic setting. Dr. Mandis is an adjunct faculty member at Columbia’s Business School and former executive at Goldman Sachs, who was granted unique access to one of the leading organizations in all of sports, Real Madrid CF. In this unique course, which is custom-designed for the program, Mandis shares his in-depth research and case studies of this remarkable sports organization to analyze the factors driving its success and their broader relevance to other organizational and leadership challenges.

The Spring semester also includes a Supervised Research Project: FC Bayern Munich Case Study, which consists of 12 students who will form a team to develop a fully-integrated marketing plan for the FC Bayern Munich team’s US tour in the summer of 2016. Working in conjunction with FCB's NY-based executives, students will apply the principles they've learned to develop social media, sponsorships, and public relations plan components to maximize the branding value and revenue for the FCB US tour. The course will culminate with the students presenting their plan to the Club's executives to gain their insights.

Another unique, first-time course offering this semester that is centered around the most popular sport in the world is the Analytics of Global Sports, a course designed to equip Columbia graduates with a deep understanding of the state of soccer analytics today. This class takes great advantage of the Columbia Sports Management program's partnership with Opta Sports, the leading provider with soccer data on the pitch. The course draws heavily on the soccer analytics expertise of Angus McNab, an Opta executive. It will focus on using Opta's proprietary data to address roster and strategy issues faced by the world's leading soccer clubs. The class will utilize sports analytics practitioners, with global experience, as guest lecturers. They will discuss the decision processes and analytical tools they use to make key strategic decisions, in their quest to build a championship club. The course will also include a Case Competition with student teams presenting their case findings to soccer industry executives.

The spring student body includes 110 students from 20 countries. Many of the students have prior work experience in the areas of finance, consulting or law, while others enter the program from positions within the sports industry. The diversity is also reflected in some of the more unique backgrounds of the class, which include a current member of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, a former Olympic table tennis player, and a recently retired WNBA player.

In addition to those focused on soccer, the spring faculty also includes returning professor Neal Pilson, broadcast television pioneer and former head of CBS Sports, as well as Ben Cherrington, former general manager of the Boston Red Sox, and Bill Squadron, co-founder of SportVision and former founder/head of Bloomberg Sports. The faculty has also expanded to meet the demands of the growing student body and will include some of the most accomplished professionals in analytics, marketing, finance, law, communications, digital media and facilities of any University in the world.

About Columbia University’s Master of Science in Sports Management Program

Recently recognized as one of the top three global programs, Columbia University’s master’s degree program in Sports Management, available part-time and full-time, trains professionals in all sectors of the sports industry by teaching specific management skills in the areas of finance, analytics, digital media, sports personnel management, law, sports marketing, and facility or event management. This combination of broad-based and specific skill training is a hallmark of the program and is evident in both the content and sequencing of courses.

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George Calderaro
gc2212 [at] columbia [dot] edu