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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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Students in SDSU's Sports Master of Business Administration program in the Dominican Republic. Students in SDSU's Sports Master of Business Administration program in the Dominican Republic.

SDSU Sports MBA Program Ranked Among World’s Best

The program was ranked first in the world for student and alumni satisfaction.
By Ryan Schuler

“I believe the alumni satisfaction ranking is No. 1 in the world because we focus on the student experience.”

For a second consecutive year, San Diego State University’s Sports Master of Business Administration (SMBA) program was recognized as one of the best programs in the world. SportBusiness International, the foremost ranking system for postgraduate sports management courses, ranked SDSU first in the world for student/alumni satisfaction as well as for providing students with the “most useful” education.

The program ranked No. 7 globally and is the top-ranked university in the western United States.

The company surveyed alumni and course leaders from more than 75 programs around the world. Assessments were based on several factors, including the quality of course content, the provision and quality of work placements and internships, as well as alumni support.

Each institution’s overall academic reputation, staff numbers and experience, and research capability also factored into the results.

The program’s ranking was lifted by its high marks from alumni, which makes the achievement particularly meaningful to Scott Minto (SMBA ‘06), the program’s director since its infancy. 

“I believe the alumni satisfaction ranking is No. 1 in the world because we focus on the student experience,” Minto said. “We constantly push our MBA students to improve their skills, to network, and to understand the industry. This focus on providing value during the program helps them land better jobs, and we’ve been pleased to learn that students are happiest when they’re being challenged to improve.”  

Connecting with alumni

A large part of the program’s success can be credited to its alumni network and opportunities for real-world experience. Sports MBA alumni mentor current students in the program, return to campus to lecture about real-world scenarios, and occasionally offer current students the opportunity to suggest ideas and work on proposals for their organizations.

“Alumni keep close tabs on current students because many are now in positions that permit them to hire recent graduates,” said Minto. “Our alumni know that Sports MBA graduates have the requisite skills to succeed in the industry and that they’ve thrived in an intensive, professional environment.”

According to current student Greg White (SMBA ’19), “Interacting with and learning from alumni has been crucial, not only in gaining the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the sports industry, but also in instilling a culture of paying it forward to current and incoming classes. In such a small, tight-knit industry, our success after graduation is immediately helpful to alumni.”

International learning

The SMBA program enrolls an average of 25 students a year. The small class size allows Minto to offer an annual weeklong trip to the Dominican Republic, where the entire class is immersed in the communities from which Major League Baseball (MLB) recruits. 

The trip develops students’ global competencies through a complete cultural and language immersion in a developing country. Students prepare extensively for the trip, learning about Dominican culture and studying Spanish to facilitate direct interaction with members of the community. The mandatory international component of the MBA program allows students to see how MLB’s presence impacts the Dominican Republic, and helps the group learn about the country’s social and economic issues through a sports business lens.

White, who recently returned from the study abroad experience in June, was profoundly impacted by the experience. 

“In order to have a better understanding of the world, and yourself, it’s imperative to travel and learn about different cultures,” said White. “My experience in the Dominican Republic taught me how sports can be a tool for community development. In the D.R., baseball can capture attention like nothing else, and that can create myriad opportunities for positive community impacts.”     

From classrooms to championships

Alumni of the SDSU Sports MBA program have also gone on to experience enormous success is the sports business industry, winning numerous championships as part of professional franchises

Mike Kitts (SMBA ’07), vice president of corporate partnerships for the Golden State Warriors, and Dominic Lucq (SMBA ’14), who works with Kitts as the manager of partnership sales for the team, have both experienced the thrill of winning two consecutive NBA titles.

“Having that championship ring is validation of working for a first-class organization with tremendous ownership and leadership,” said Kitts.