New Sport and Event Management Major is “Huge for Students”

By Jessica Reyes, Assistant Director of Communications
Connor Vanin at the Wells Fargo basketball court
Connor Vanin, a 2016 graduate, is the event manager for Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

The Widener University School of Business Administration has launched a new major in sport and event management starting fall 2020. The program will allow students the opportunity to work one-on-one with industry leaders from major Philadelphia sports teams and event venues, giving them a career advantage in an exciting, growing field.

Widener has offered a sport management concentration within the management major for over 20 years. Now, the university is expanding the concentration to an undergraduate major to keep pace with the concentration’s popularity and the strong career outlook for graduates entering the market, according to Professor Brian Larson, director of the program.

Widener University has a strong legacy of preparing students to lead in the sport and event management sectors. From day one, students in this major will benefit from dedicated faculty who have long-standing connections to industry professionals. These insiders can provide not only their guidance and wisdom, but opportunities for networking, internships and jobs. Professor Brian Larson

Graduates of Widener’s sport management concentration are already succeeding at a variety of businesses regionally and nationally. This is demonstrated by 2016 graduate Connor Vanin who works as event manager for the Wells Fargo Center. He manages game logistics for the 76ers and other events.

He chose Widener for its central location in the Philadelphia region’s bustling sports scene and quickly found a supportive network. Larson and the sport management advisory board helped him secure two internships in the Events Department at the Wells Fargo Center, leading to his current job.

“Widener gives you access to industry professionals. Without those connections, I wouldn’t have secured that internship, and without that internship, I wouldn’t have my job,” Vanin said. “I want to offer that same help to Widener students now.”

Connor Vanin is event manager at Wells Fargo
Connor Vanin '16 is the event manager at Wells Fargo Center.

The new major was designed to allow students to choose from two tracks: sport management or event management. Students also can earn a double major or minor, such as marketing or management, by taking advantage of the flexibility of the courses offered.

“The sport and event management major is unique in that students will be able to plan high-profile events and go behind the scenes of distinguished venues,” said Associate Professor Jeffrey Lolli. “These experiences and internships will help them find their niche in the industry.”

The program will receive direction from an existing industry advisory board at Widener that has included distinguished officers from the Eagles, Phillies, Blue Rocks, Union, and Flyers, as well as retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods, athletic directors, Olympic coaches, entrepreneurs, and event management companies. Many members of the board also teach as adjunct faculty in the program.

The program will also be supported by an active student club that hosts speakers and networking events and regularly visits professional sports stadiums.

Dylan Morrissette, a 2019 graduate and sales associate for the Philadelphia Phillies, said these types of experiences are invaluable. At Widener, he was able to learn the ins-and-outs of business management and marketing, while also playing NCAA Division III baseball.

“As a sports fan, that was always the dream – to work for the Phillies,” Morrissette said. “A lot of doors were opened thanks to the connections and advice from Dr. Larson and the adjunct faculty who went from being my professors to now being people I work with and work for at the Phillies.”

Nicole Repetto, a 2012 Widener graduate who works as director of premium seating at Spectra, said the new program will position Widener as a leader in the sport management field in the Philadelphia region.

“This new major is huge for students,” Repetto said. “Students will be even more prepared to go into the field.”

Explore the Sport & Event Management Major

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