PSU launches athletic and outdoor industry certificate program

PSU launches athletic and outdoor industry certificate program

April 26–Sports management programs have sprouted at universities across the United States. Few are better known than the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.

But Portland State University believes it has found a niche that is not addressed elsewhere and is a natural in a neighborhood that includes Nike, Adidas and Columbia Sportswear, among others.

The university’s Center for Retail Leadership is launching a certificate program aimed at preparing students to work in Oregon’s athletic and outdoor industries. Enrollment begins this fall.

“We are right in the center of where the businesses are,” said Lauren Beitelspacher, director of the athletic and outdoor industry certificate program.

A Portland Development Commission-funded study of the industry said Oregon has more than 800 athletic and outdoor industry companies, with total employment of more than 14,000. The average wage, the study said, is more than $80,000 annually, 70 percent higher than the statewide average for all workers.

Coursework for the certificate will center on major competitive issues in the industry with an emphasis on marketing, retailing, distribution and sales.

Other sports programs at colleges and universities focus on management of the sports themselves or product design, said Beitelspacher, an assistant professor of marketing.

“The whole premise of our program is giving them basic skill sets,” she said.

The program will include guest lecturers from companies such as Nike, Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, Keen, Gerber Legendary Blades, Icebreaker, The Clymb and Mizuno, the university says in a news release.

A pair of Nike veterans are teaching a class this quarter that will be part of the certificate program, “Channel Management in the Athletic and Outdoor Industry.” The instructors are Patty Ross, vice president of global process innovation, and Grant Barth, a former global apparel leader for outdoorwear and outdoor who now works for Levi Strauss.

“The athletic and outdoor industry is a cornerstone of Oregon’s business community,” Barth says in a PSU news release. “We see this program offering a significant training foundation for building local talent.”

All 35 slots are filled for the channel management class, which explores the process of bringing a product idea to manufacturing and to market.

And a class Beitelspacher, a taught earlier this year, “Competitive Dynamics in the Athletic and Outdoor Industry,” also was fully enrolled.

She expects all of the 25 openings in the certificate program to be filled for the inaugural program this fall. An estimated 100 students are expected to graduate from the program in the next five years.

The Center for Retail Leadership, part of PSU’s School of Business Administration, was created in the 1990s to focus on Oregon’s food industry. In

— Allan Brettman