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Over 400 people gather at the University of Bayreuth to participate in the first annual football summit.

Ohio University, University of Bayreuth partner for sports management degree

With help from the College of Business at Ohio University and the College of Law, Business and Economics at the University of Bayreuth in Bavaria, Germany, a double degree program in sports management has offered students a new take on studying sports business. 

David Ridpath, a professor of sports business and director of the sports management double degree program, said OU and the University of Bayreuth lead the field of sports management, making it an obvious choice for a partnership.

“(The University of Bayreuth) was the very first sports management program in Europe and is very highly rated,” he said. “(OU’s) was the first program in the world, and I thought this would be a great connection.” 

The program, which is entering its third year including travel, is designed to allow students from both universities to receive a bachelor's degree in sports management from OU and a Bachelor of Science in sport, business and law from the University of Bayreuth, according to a university press release

“The College of Business has a longstanding sport management partnership with the University of Bayreuth,” OU College of Business Dean Jackie Rees Ulmer wrote in an email. “Together, we look forward to providing continued academic and experiential learning opportunities that will enable our students, faculty and staff to become future global leaders in the business of sport.”

During the first academic year, OU and the University of Bayreuth students would stay at their home institutions. The following year, the German students would come to OU, and the American students would also stay in Athens. As they enter junior standing, both students would attend Bayreuth for a full academic year.

After the third year, American students return to the U.S. for their final year. Because traditional German bachelor’s degrees only require three years, German students have the option of returning to the U.S. for a fourth year.

“We've made it incredibly affordable for the Germans. For the Ohio students, they're going to pay normal tuition all four years, even when they're abroad,” Ridpath said.

He said the dual program offers students the opportunity to have more networks and experiences in sports business, which is what sets the program apart from others. 

Charlie Delfs, a junior from the University of Bayreuth, credits the double degree program with her decision to attend the University of Bayreuth and study sports management. 

“I declared a second major. That is a lot easier here than back home. I started additionally pursuing business analytics, and that has only been made possible because of the program,” she said.

Delfs also said studying sports management in the U.S. has given her a greater understanding of the globalization of sports, especially with the rise of American football in Germany. 

“My international perspective on sports, which is obviously hugely affected by globalization, continues to expand,” she said. “It is really, really interesting.” 

Tim Ströbel, a professor in marketing and sport management, was also part of creating the dual degree program, and he is also monitoring the growth of sports across continents.

“I think that the idea of our double degree program … preparing students for this global sports industry is exactly what the NFL is doing at the moment,” Ströbel said.

In recent years, the program has partnered with brands like Adidas to give students practical experience in the industry.

“They were pretty excited about this opportunity (of having international students),” Ströbel said. “(Students) are in Herzogenaurach at the Adidas headquarters solving a real case problem they have,” 

Outside the classroom, Ridpath and Ströbel have collaborated on events such as the inaugural American Football Summit, which was held at the University of Bayreuth in November, according to a university press release

Speakers such as former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Alexander Stein, head of NFL Germany, headlined the event, covering topics from football techniques to sports legalities. 

“I think it is something that could grow into a yearly event ... I do think that we will see the day of permanent NFL franchises in Europe, and the sport itself will be more global,” Ridpath said. “My hope is that Ohio and Bayreuth students are on the cutting edge because of the things that we have done for the past 15 years.”


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