SBJ/20090316/This Week's News

Sports MBA program at Arizona State falls victim to budget cuts

Ten-year anniversaries typically call for a celebration, but students, faculty and staff at Arizona State University’s MBA Sports Business program have little to cheer about.

Talk of the program’s demise has circulated for months. Ray Artigue, the program’s executive director, was informed shortly after the new year that his program was on the chopping block. In mid-February, ASU made the information public, effectively closing down one of the most marketable programs at the W.P. Carey School of Business.

On July 1, Artigue no longer will have a job. The last class will graduate in May 2010, when the two-year graduate degree officially is dismantled.

“These things can never be planned for,” said Artigue, who’s run the department the past three years. “It’s a result of these unprecedented times that we’re living in.”

He said the program brought a fair amount of attention to the W.P. Carey School, but the niche offering only enrolled 24 students, making it a hard sell in today’s cost-cutting climate.

The MBA sports business specialization involves a small number of students, but requires faculty and staff resources similar to larger programs for teaching, advising and career placement, said W.P. Carey Dean Robert Mittelstaedt. “We had to make an economically sound decision when faced with major state budget cuts, and this decision affected fewer students,” he said.

The specialization, which has produced more than 100 alumni around the world, was among 48 programs cut by the university. The W.P. Carey School enrolls more than 750 MBA students in its evening, weekend, online and full-time day programs.

Prior to joining ASU, Artigue led marketing efforts for the Phoenix Suns. He said it’s too early to talk about his next career move, but he didn’t rule out a return to the private sector or being his own boss.

“The idea of starting another business and growing it excites me,” he said.

Chris Casacchia writes for the Phoenix Business Journal, an affiliated publication.

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