The Icing on the Master’s Program
Sports administration students meet with Chicago Blackhawks executives
The Chicago Blackhawks’ 4–3 shootout win against the St. Louis Blues on March 13 already had the hometown crowd at the United Center roaring — and for 20 students from SCS’s Master of Arts in Sports Administration (MSA) program, the ice hockey faceoff had an extra element of excitement. Before the game the students met with Chicago Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough and Executive Vice President Jay Blunk to gather insights about working in the world of sports.
“It was a great way to see both the on-ice talent as well as the business talent,” said MSA student Kevin Mroz, who organized the outing and is vice president of events for the MSA student board.
Mroz started planning the meeting in September after attending a forum at which both McDonough and Blunk spoke. Before the forum began, Mroz, who graduated from the University of Illinois in 2011 and is in his third quarter in the MSA program, approached the Blackhawks executives about arranging the meeting. McDonough was more than familiar with the MSA program: in spring 2010 McDonough and Northwestern University athletic director Jim Phillips co-taught an MSA course.
“The MSA program at Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies offers students the perfect blend of educational resources which will help them make a seamless transition to the professional level, while giving them an immediate advantage in the field,” said McDonough, who sits on the MSA’s faculty advisory board.
Under McDonough’s leadership, the Blackhawks have become one of professional sports’ biggest success stories, consistently drawing capacity crowds and quadrupling the number of season ticket holders to lead the National Hockey League in attendance for three consecutive seasons.
During their hour-long pregame meeting with the MSA students, McDonough and Blunk spoke about the rewards and challenges of working in the business of sports. “John and Jay discussed the steps they took to make the Blackhawks one of the most successful sports franchises and what Forbes called “The Greatest Sports-Business Turnaround Ever,” said Mroz.
“Being able to meet with two top sports executives not only in the Chicago area, but in the entire business of sports was an exciting opportunity,” said Mroz. “The prestige of Northwestern helps to open many doors and provides many opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.”