JCU introduces Mike Cleary program in Sports Studies

October 30th, 2014


For the 2014 school year, John Carroll announced a new academic major, Sports Studies. The new major was established by renowned 1956 John Carroll alum, Mike Cleary. The program is intended for students to learn and excel in fields that concentrate on or around sports.


The Mike Cleary Program in Sport Studies was named in honor of the man who dedicated most of his life to sports. As early as undergrad, Cleary started his career in sports as the sports information director.


Shortly after graduating from John Carroll, Cleary became the emeritus executive director of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. Cleary saw the association through from its founding in 1965 until 2011. Though he is no longer an acting official, Cleary still puts an incredible amount of effort into NACDA.


Cleary led the association from a 300-member organization to a revered institution with more than 6,500 athletic administrators in roughly 1,600 institutions and organizations, including the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.


The University has a history of great alumni who were heavily involved in sports. The new Sports Studies major has been in the works for some time, but this year was the most reasonable time to launch the academic program. The Sports Studies major offered John Carroll another option for students not necessarily interested in the scientific aspects of sports, but still had a desire to be a part of sports.


The Sports Studies program is setup in a way that encourages students to double major or minor in other fields. The Sports Studies major is a natural addition to the current majors, related to sports, Physical Education and Exercise Science. All are related to human activity and physical activity whether it is from an unorganized level to professional status.


The addition of the sports major to the current John Carroll majors will help make the school more diverse. A wider range of majors draws more positive attention to the school. This new option could be what the school needs to help prepare leaders in the sports community.


If a student wishes to major in the sports studies program, it is designed to meet those students’ needs or passions. Students can choose from three academic tracks within the Mike Cleary major in sports studies; Sports and Athletics Administration, Coaching and Recreation, and Sports, Fitness, and Wellness for Diverse Populations.


The Sports and Athletics Administration track requires Business school courses. Any student interested in this concentration would want to pursue a career in the business and economic side of sports.


The Coaching and Recreation track focuses on students who have a passion for working in the coaching field or the recreational field. This intensive track would place emphasis on working with children and teens in sports.


The final track, Sports, Fitness, and Wellness for Diverse Populations, seeks individuals who would like to become involved in the sports administration process through organizations such as the Special Olympics, Youth Challenge, geriatric programs, or other nonprofit groups with a sports affiliation.


“I was a business marketing major before and actually, I am keeping that and will be double majoring,” said junior Courtney Fallon, sports studies program’s first student. “When I heard about the program, there was not a doubt in mind. I was going to do it,” Fallon said.


Fallon being the first student in the program has received much attention from the University. “I am super excited and passionate to have the program,” Fallon said.  “Mike Cleary is the ultimate role model in the sports industry. I can only hope to be half of that,” added Fallon.


Kathleen Manning, director of the Sports Studies program is interested in preparing leaders for the sports industry who are passionate about the quality of sports in whatever they choose to be their area of study.


“My interest, my goal, and my passions are to find John Carroll students who want to make a difference as leaders in sports administration in whatever venue that means, maybe they want to become a sports education director or become in charge of a non-profit,” said Manning.


Manning emphasized wanting a strong curriculum for the students in this program so they can be prepared for their futures in sports. “Our world runs on sports. So, I am passionate about sports having good leadership and making sure that it is ethical, that it is moral,” Manning said. She suggests many of us only think of sports at the professional level and we do not think about what happens or who controls what happens behind the scenes.


“I am excited about the curriculum the students are going to experience. I am excited about the developmental process. Watching them grow in leadership potential, which we will continually assess across three stages. We will literally see a leader develop through the courses they take and the assignments we give them and their practicum opportunity,” said Manning.


Because the program is new to John Carroll, most attention is being focused on how to spread the word about the program and the major. “Right now I am looking at kids who are freshman who have looked at it on our website and have been emailing me about the program,” said Manning, “It is going to take a while but the admissions counselors are starting to role it out.”


Once the program gains a number of students, Manning wants to introduce those students to Cleary. “I would like them to know the value of the man whose name is on there,” said Manning. “He’s what we want our students to be in terms of ethical, moral leaders in the sports world,” adds Manning.


“As we increase in size, we are going to have to increase faculty,” Manning said addressing the future of the program. “As we begin to role out the program, we want to plan ahead. Space could be an issue because we are a little landlocked but I do not see those as negatives,” said Manning.


“If I get enough people to need a new faculty member then, yay! I am not a person who looks at negatives. Any challenge that comes up along the way will just be a stepping stone,” Manning said.


“We might be a small division three school, but we are well known in the athletic field and now we are going to send more graduates out into the sports world. They are going to represent John Carroll very well in the sports community,” said Manning.


Manning expressed her excitement for the program being named in honor of Cleary, “John Carroll does not put names on programs lightly. Cleary is a wonderful representative of John Carroll. I am really pleased that his name is associated with the program.”