Harrington School launches program in sports media, communication

University of Rhode Island communications majors interested in pursuing careers in the sports industry have landed prestigious internships and jobs over the years. Now, the University’s Harrington School of Communication and Media is providing students a more direct path with the launch this fall of a bachelor’s degree in sports media and communication.

“With the ever-growing popularity of sports, there are great opportunities for students to find exciting careers in all aspects of sports media,” said Adam Roth, director of the Harrington School and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “This program not only opens doors to careers as sports reporters and broadcasters, but also careers in marketing, advertising, and sales for large media outlets and professional sports teams.”

The new program, which expands on a sports media minor offered for the first time in 2018, comes at an opportune time for students seeking careers in sports media fields. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects occupations in sports, media and communications, and related fields to grow significantly between 2016 and 2026.

Two URI graduates now working in the industry say the addition of the sports media major will greatly help students interested in sports communication careers, and distinguishes the Harrington School from other programs.

“The sports industry is evolving day by day with a need for continuous innovation,” said Josh Feinberg ’08, director of group sales and hospitality with the Oakland Athletics who has also worked for the New Orleans Pelicans and the Brooklyn Nets. “Students at URI will now have a unique opportunity to make an impact more than ever on how fans enjoy sports in their stadium experience, on their mobile devices or in their living rooms.”

“Students today have the ability to create their own unique college experiences based on the information at their fingertips,” added Renee Greenwood, ’08, M.A. ’11, a controller with ESPN who also worked with the Boston and Pawtucket Red Sox. “That is why it’s important that URI’s offerings evolve, and the Harrington School is doing just that by adding the sports media program. URI provided me with the tools I needed to understand and execute sound journalism. With the sports media program, students will be trained to tell meaningful stories from around the globe, with empathy, respect and admiration.”

The interdisciplinary major builds on the Harrington School’s strengths in media and culture, journalism, communications, public relations, and production to provide students with critical and theoretical knowledge and practical experience in sports media. Students will develop advanced skills in sports journalism, broadcasting, public relations, writing, communications and sports data and analytics, allowing them to critically and effectively evaluate and produce sports media and communications across a wide variety of platforms.

“Students will be taught and challenged by real-world professionals as well as regular visits from well-known industry experts and celebrities,” says Elizabeth Aube-VanPatten, a new URI lecturer with 15 years’ experience in sports management in professional sports and nonprofits. “Students will get an insightful insider’s view of the importance of sports communication careers.”

In addition to the coursework, students will gain professional experience through internships and volunteer opportunities, and they will have the opportunity to meet alumni working in the sports industry as reporters, broadcasters, anchors, advertisers, public relations specialists and film producers.

“With URI’s new $1.25 million Broadcast Center (opening September 27) and the Harrington School’s partnerships with the student newspaper and radio station and URI Athletics, students have great resources right here on campus,” Roth said. “Plus, URI is perfectly situated near large media outlets to provide great opportunities for internships.”

In addition, students can seek internships through the Harrington School’s sports media partners, including the National Basketball Association, the Boston Bruins and Boston Red Sox and such media outlets as ESPN.

The major requires at least 30 credits – a maximum of 42 – with core courses in communications, journalism and public relations, including sports broadcasting, sports media and communication, and sports writing. Electives can be chosen in sports culture, media and society; sports media production; and strategic sports communication and information.