Sports Executive and Author


Career FAQs

1.  What courses did you study in college?  What courses do you recommend that I take?  Do you have any recommendations on subject matter?

  • When I was in college there were no schools offering a curriculum in sports administration. You could take coaching courses through the department of physical education, but that was it. I never did that, but decided to get a degree in liberal arts. I thought I wanted to be a journalist so I took most of my classes in communications, English literature and Great Books. My mother, an English teacher, told me not to worry about what my academic major was as it related to getting a job after graduation. She said, "Just get the best general education you can." Today, of course, there are many universities offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees in sports management. Maybe it's required for aspiring sports executives, but I still think you can't go wrong with a good liberal arts education, including courses in business. I would also strongly recommend training in public speaking, leadership and ethics.

2.  I would like a career in sports administration.  Do you have any advice?

  • Aside from proving yourself academically, I believe strongly that the best opportunities come for those who have networked effectively. By that, I mean you should get to know as many people in the business as possible. Students should not be shy about calling every college and professional sports franchise that they can visit, and asking to meet someone in the organization. The idea here is not to request what might be construed as an unwelcome job interview, but rather to hear their experiences and recommendations. The most important "take-away" from such meetings is that you have made a connection and expanded your network. When you make your calls be prepared to be stonewalled or passed off to a someone lower in the hierarchy, but eventually someone, even the CEO if that's who you've had the guts to call, will see you. They will see you for one reason - they were once in your shoes. And don't forget to write a thank you note afterwards. It is more important than you think. I believe that most jobs in the profession are secured on the basis of a strong personal recommendation from someone the hiring party knows and trusts, not on the basis of academic transcripts, degrees or resumes. You cannot have too many contacts.

3.  What was the best part of your jobs?

  • The best part on any athletics director's is being around the student-athletes and coaches. Unfortunately, most of an AD's time is necessarily spent elsewhere - in public and media relations, raising money from boosters, managing a budget and dealing with NCAA and conference matters, to name a few. As for being a baseball executive, winning takes precedence over all else. Of course, it is gratifying to develop collegial relationships with your administrative team, but there isn't much contact with the players, and winning determines how long people will be around.

4.  What aspects of your jobs did you find most challenging?

  • As an AD the most challenging job is to keep the program in proper perspective for everyone - the student-athletes, the coaches, the alumni and the media. Winning with honor is the goal, what I call my WAC model - "W" for winning, "A" for academic success and "C" for citizenship. Accomplishing just two out of three doesn't cut it. Even winning, without both reasonable academic achievement and respectable behavior feels hollow. But the importance of winning cannot be minimized. You're not running a glorified intramural program. Having a team with great students and wonderful citizens, but that doesn't win much, isn't acceptable, either. How an AD balances these values to the satisfaction of his constituencies and audiences is a great challenge.

5.  What was it like working for George Steinbrenner?

  • This is the question I get most often, by far. Even now, because I lasted only 100 days, I'm not sure that I really know. But if you want to learn what I went through, you'll have to read my book, From the Buckeyes to the Bronx.


Do you have a question for Rick? 
Use the Contact Page to send your message or email Rick at rick@thebaywatch.com.
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