Inner Circle May 2014

The Time Is Now for UO Sports Product Management

Our state is experiencing a sports product firm explosion with more than 800 currently calling Oregon home. Manufacturers are clamoring for highly trained graduates, and the management and design of sports products is of acute interest to our students. Our proposed new master of science in sports product management degree program—targeted for launch in fall 2015 in Portland—is a unique opportunity for the Lundquist College of Business and the University of Oregon at an extraordinary time in history.

Part of a broader sports product initiative comprising Lundquist certificate programs in Eugene, a new master in product design degree program in the UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts (AAA), and executive education offerings in sports product management, the master of science in sports product management presents an exceptional opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to supporting economic development in Oregon. It also allows us to reach a higher level of crossdisciplinary education and research that merges business and product design and additionally engages with journalism, law, green chemistry, and human physiology.

The master of product design and master of science in sports product management aim to be the preeminent programs of their type in the world. The substantive interconnection between traditional product design and management techniques will equip students with an integrated set of capabilities that are both unique and highly desired by the national and international health and sports industries. Business and design students will engage in primary research, scholarly learning, and intensive experiential learning in a six term, team-based, integrated product development project.

Corresponding Success

The proposed new programs build on existing disciplinary strengths. The Warsaw Sports Marketing Center was the first sports related program housed in any U.S. business school. It made the UO a leader in this growing space. The sports product initiative builds on the Warsaw Center's successes in the service sector by creating a corresponding program in the product arena. Product design began at the UO in 2008 in response to the prominent design ethos of Portland. It has grown in size and excellence in both Eugene and Portland faster than could have been imagined.

The new programs are part of the long-term strategic plan adopted by the Lundquist College of Business in 2013. They align with our three primary foci: global reach, experiential education, and enhanced Portland presence. The sports product management master's program plans to recruit half of its students internationally and half domestically. Asia and Brazil are particularly important regions for this industry. As a consequence, this program will also further diversify the graduate student body at the university.

Demonstrated Support

On April 25, the Lundquist College of Business faculty unanimously voted to approve the master's program in sports product management and move it forward to the Graduate Council for university approval. In his presentation to faculty, Associate Dean for Integrated Programs James Bean noted the concentration of sports product manufacturers in Oregon—more than 700 firms in Portland alone.

“Hundreds of jobs will be available in coming years," he said. “By laying claim to the sports product management space, we really have the industry's attention."

Portland-based instructor Ellen Schmidt-Devlin and Professor Emeritus Roger Best have been instrumental in constructing the UO sports product management operational plan.

“It represents an amazing confluence of opportunities," Bean said.

The business model for the sports product initiative, which will house the degree program, is a combination of graduate tuition and private funding. We are targeting the creation of a significant endowment to support the program at the highest levels of quality and affordability. The new programs will be primarily located in the White Stag complex in Portland. Besides classrooms, breakout rooms, and offices, plans call for studio space, the Bridge Innovation Lab and, eventually, innovative retail space.

To date, the business college has raised $525,000 in external funds, including a generous gift from Dave Petrone "66, MBA '68, and his wife Nancy. Additionally, we have secured a university loan of $400,000 to cover startup expenses. We are actively preparing to raise the $20,000,000 endowment needed to make the program world class.

Lastly, the greater university confirmed its investment in sports product management in its May 14 announcement of full, permanent funding for a tenure-track faculty AAA position. It is also budgeting $300,000 for program development, to be split between AAA and the Lundquist College.

There is intense interest in sports product management from employers, current and potential students, and faculty. We look forward to sharing more news as this already popular initiative continues to grow.


Cornelis A. “Kees" de Kluyver

Dean and Rippey Distinguished Professor