SBJ/October 24-30, 2011/Colleges

Colangelo offers more than his name to Grand Canyon University sports business program

For-profit Grand Canyon University will relaunch its sports business program with a direct affiliation with former Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo. This week the Phoenix school will name its undergraduate sports business program the Colangelo School of Sports Business.

Colangelo is board chairman of USA Basketball.

Colangelo will be paid an undisclosed salary for his involvement in the program. There are 185 students enrolled in the on-campus undergraduate sports program, which began last year. An additional 140 students are included in its online sports business program. The school does not offer a graduate sports business program.

The university, which has 4,000 students on campus and another 40,000 registered as online students, is owned by publicly traded Grand Canyon Education Inc.

Colangelo is a former board member of the Christian faith-based university. “I have a longtime relationship with the university and the plan is to enhance the existing program,” Colangelo said. “It is not just the use of my name. I plan on participating as much as I can.”

Grand Canyon University CEO Brian Mueller said that attaching Colangelo’s name to the program is part of an aggressive growth strategy aiming to double the number of its sports business students in six years.

“Jerry has such a high profile in managing sports organizations and his reach is so deep,” Mueller said. “Jerry will have oversight of the program and we will lean on him to promote the program.”

The university is now an NCAA Division II school but wants to move into a Division I program, Mueller said. The school recently opened a new $40 million, 5,000-seat arena.

“It is a small program that we want to grow into an outstanding program, and hopefully with my involvement and relationships I will be able to do just that,” Colangelo said. “This is different than making a [financial] contribution and having my name put on a building.”

Brian Smith directs the sports business program. He taught sports management at East Tennessee State University from 2007 to 2010.

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