Sports Industry: An Inside Look at Working for the NCAA

If you ask him what the best part of his job is, current MBA student Chris Ruckdaschel will tell you it’s the opportunity “to interact with passionate folks from all around the country.” Chris, the Assistant Director of Inclusion at the NCAA, spends each day working on lofty-sounding projects like community outreach and providing membership-defined value.

But beneath those titles, Chris facilitates communication between more than 1,200 colleges associated with the NCAA. He regularly contacts presidents and chancellors from colleges around the United States to ensure that the NCAA, a service-based nonprofit, is fulfilling its roles and satisfying its customers.

Chris began looking at earning his MBA years ago, but recently enrolled in the Anderson University MBA Program. “I have always felt that an MBA provides a well-rounded view of how businesses work,” said Chris. “It can only make me more valuable to my employer.”

Chris emphasizes that even though the NCAA is a nonprofit, it is still a business and thus still requires funding. “Through the MBA Program, I hoped to explore new ways to provide services,” said Chris. “To me an MBA is one of those can’t-miss programs.”

One of Chris’ biggest challenges is implementing change in a massive organization. “I completely agree with the method we use, but implementing any type of change in our organization requires a number of folks’ input and approval,” said Chris. “It takes a lot of consulting, so it’s sometimes challenging for us to keep things moving as quickly as possible.”

All industries boast the use of specific jargon, and the sports industry is no different. “We are large users of acronyms,” said Chris. “I guess you could say it starts with our name, NCAA. When we get to flinging around acronyms in meetings, it probably sounds like a foreign language.”

Chris’ proudest professional accomplishment is a previous assignment where he networked with and trained athletic administrators to help them move into leadership positions. During this program, Chris helped many administrators realize their dreams as athletic directors, and many professionals who went through this program found positions immediately afterward.

“It makes me feel like this was such a worthwhile program,” said Chris. “We’re ultimately changing people’s lives.”

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The AU MBA program is a traditional MBA program designed for the working professional. Classes meet in the evening and mostly one night each week. Most students complete the program in less than 23 months. The MBA program is offered on the Anderson campus and in several locations in the Indianapolis area. The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) nationally accredits the Anderson University MBA program, and Anderson University is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

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