Preparing Students for Careers in Sports Communication


ESPN; the Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers; National Collegiate Athletics and the National Collegiate Athletic Association; the Denver Post and the Des Moines Register — these are just some of the sports communication outlets where students and alumni have found themselves applying their Greenlee-learned skills as interns or full-time employees.

Sports communication has long been a popular career path for students pursuing degrees from the Greenlee School. Whether covering sports, publicizing teams or managing teams’ or leagues’ communications, students with advertising, journalism and mass communication and public relations degrees have all found ways to utilize their skills in the sports communication industry.

This year a new experimental course was created by lecturer and alumna Beth Haag, ’89, M.A. ’95, to provide students with a better understanding of this particular field. Sports in the Media in a Digital 24/7 World (ADVRT, JL MC, P R 497K) was designed by Haag to introduce sports communication policies, trends and issues and their effects on professional communicators at collegiate and professional levels.

For Haag, this course is one that came from her passion for sports communication and experience working in the field. Throughout her time as a Greenlee student, Haag worked as a media relations assistant for Iowa State Athletics—a position that current Greenlee students can apply for today. After graduation, Haag transitioned into a full-time position in the department, where she served as a liaison between the athletic department and local, regional and national media, the Big 12 Conference and internal university audiences for Iowa State’s NCAA Division I teams.

Mike Green, communications director for Iowa State Athletics, says that students need strong writing skills and work ethic to succeed in the many internships the department offers. Internships with athletics are available in areas like media relations and social media, among others.

Mitch Gerber, ’15, landed a job as a digital media assistant for the Big 12 Conference after graduating with a degree in journalism and mass communication last May. In this role, Gerber produces video content that’s shared on and Fox Sports Southwest. His current work focuses on football-related content and student athlete pieces to promote the conference’s new Champions for Life campaign.

As a former baseball player, Gerber decided to try his hand at sports communication. “Little did I know, but working in sports is completely different than simply liking sports,” said Gerber. However, his experiences covering sports for ISUtv, 88.5 KURE, the campus radio station, and confirmed that he wanted to pursue sports communications as a career after graduation.

After spending time working in the field, Gerber recommends that students “be willing to work hard, go the extra mile, and be willing to learn.” Gerber, Green and Haag all agree that real-life experience is the best way of getting a foot in the door.

Student Kneeling on Football Field

The introduction of Haag’s new course this fall indicated that sports communicaion remains a popular area for Greenlee students. The course, which is designed to appeal to all majors within Greenlee, filled up quickly and had a 20-person waiting list when the semester began, Haag said.

While the course is designed to prepare students for the nuances of working in sports communication, Haag, Green and Gerber all agree that work experience is what will benefit students the most when they look for jobs in the field after graduation. Pursing experiences through student media that cover sports like the Iowa State Daily, ISUtv or 88.5 KURE or internships with Iowa State Athletics or, is essential for students interested in the field. Not only do these experiences help students apply the skills they learn in the classroom, they also help students gain contacts in the field.

“If you don’t take advantage of opportunities, someone else will,” said Haag.