EKU introduces sports communication certificate

The Council on Academic Affairs approved a new sports communication certificate effective in fall 2021 in a meeting on Feb. 18. The certificate is housed in the Department of Communication in the Institute for Creative and Collaborative Arts. 

The certificate originated during Assurance of Learning Day. Ginny Whitehouse, broadcasting and electronic media professor, and other faculty members discussed the idea for the certificate. 

“I started in the middle of that meeting figuring out what courses would it include, and I looked at other departments and who might be interested in it, and before Assurance of Learning Day was over, I had different departments really excited about it,” said Whitehouse. “It was really interesting how quickly within a few hours everybody said, ‘Yes, we need to do this.’” 

A week after the discussion at Assurance of Learning Day, the faculty from the various departments had a meeting and agreed to move forward with the sports communication certificate. Whitehouse filled out the university curriculum paperwork, which had to go through a series of committees before being approved by the Council on Academic Affairs (CAA).  

The 20 credit hour certificate is a collaboration between broadcasting and electronic media, public relations, exercise and sport science and math and statistics for students interested in sports communication. 

“It is a certificate program designed for students who are passionate about sports and passionate about sharing sports stories,” said Whitehouse. “Students who are interested in this program are going to come out with the foundation skills to go into a host of sports communication and sports promotion fields.”

The courses included in the certificate are:

BEM 200 Information Gathering

BEM 295 Video Production 1 (4)

BEM 302 Practicum (1) 

BEM 330 Sportswriting and Reporting

PUB 395 Sports Promotions

STA 215 Introduction to Statistical Reasoning

ESS 530 Sports Communication (Junior/Senior Standing) 

Whitehouse explained how each course will provide students with beneficial knowledge regarding sports communication. She noted the belief that all students should have a solid understanding of statistics. The STA 215 course has a section specifically on sports data where students will learn the same skills as the other sections, but the content was sports-related.

“Sportswriting and reporting will consider how to write solid sports stories. The PUB course, sports promotion, sets up how to make a public relations campaign surrounding a team,” said Whitehouse. 

ESS 530 can meet both undergraduate and graduate expectations.

“It is an excellent course offered by the ESS faculty that gives a big picture of how to share information and stories about the opportunities in sports communication. That course involves everything from how to do press conferences to social media, really how to interact with the press,” Whitehouse said. 

Whitehouse also stated information gathering and video production 1 give students a foundational skill-set for sports communication.

Most of the required courses were offered this spring to allow students to get a jump start on the curriculum. Sportswriting and reporting will be available in the fall.

In the sports communication certificate justification section of the proposal, Whitehouse said that other universities in the state have a program similar to the proposed certificate.

“The University of Kentucky launched its sports communication undergraduate track within its College of Communication and Information in Fall 2019. Murray State has an undergraduate sports communication minor in its Organizational Communication and Leadership Department. Western Kentucky has an online graduate certificate in strategic sports communication.”

As a BEM professor, Whitehouse has seen firsthand the want and need for this certificate among students at EKU. 

In the proposal for the certificate, she said, “Students have expressed great interest in advising to pursue careers in sports communication. Eastern already offers the courses in this proposed certificate program. Packaging them together provides students with added career opportunities in the highly popular sports industry. The proposed program meets students where they already are.”

Seeing the certificate come into fruition is exciting for Whitehouse, as it will enable students to pursue their career goals in sports communication. 

“It’s exciting. I have both young men and young women who are wanting this for their professional careers, and anything that helps advance our students to do that which they are passionate about is very exciting to me,” she said.

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