GCU Announces Colangelo School of Sports Business
By Doug Carroll
Grand Canyon University entered into a partnership Tuesday with one of the most powerful and respected sports executives in the country as it formally announced the creation of a Jerry Colangelo School of Sports Business.The school will be part of the Ken Blanchard College of Business at the University, with its enrollment expected to grow as high as 1,000 students in five years under the direction of Dr. Brian C. Smith, a former basketball player at the University of New Mexico.
More than 300 students currently are sports business majors at GCU, which created the major in mid-2010 — the only one of its kind in Arizona.
“How can you best summarize what you’ve done and pass it on?” Colangelo said at a morning news conference in the lobby of the new GCU Arena. “I can’t think of a a better venue than a school of sports business.
“When I started, sports was a mom-and-pop business. Today, it’s a multibillion-dollar industry.”
The sweep of Colangelo’s lengthy career has been extraordinary, involving ownership of the NBA Phoenix Suns and MLB Arizona Diamondbacks and most recently directorship of USA Basketball. He is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.Just as Phoenix was a sleepy Southwestern city when he helped launch the Suns in the late 1960s, so is GCU shedding its image as a quiet little campus on the city’s west side.
“There are great plans and vision for what Grand Canyon University will become,” said Colangelo, who was joined for the occasion by GCU’s CEO, Brian Mueller, and its Business dean, Dr. Kevin Barksdale.
Barksdale said the centerpiece of any sports business program is internships and job placement. Some of the most highly regarded programs in the country are at Ohio University, the University of Oregon and the University of South Carolina.
The long-term strategy, he said, is for GCU to have a top-10 program.Colangelo said he would be involved in bringing lecturers to campus “with experience in the trenches,” drawing from the sports and business worlds. He also said he would be donating memorabilia from his career for an exhibit to be housed permanently at the University.
He had special words for the students in attendance.
“It’s a big world, and there are great opportunities if you’re willing to take risks,” he said. “You have to swim out to the ship. I use this line often: If it could happen to me, coming from the South Side of Chicago, it could happen to anyone who’s focused, hungry and willing to pay the price.”
News of Colangelo’s newest connection to the University — he formerly was a member of its board of directors — was reported nationally by the Colin Cowherd show on ESPN Radio and by ESPN’s midday “SportsCenter.”
Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or [email protected].