Last Updated on June 6, 2023
Interview with Professor Brian Hofman
Sports Degrees Online has the opportunity to interview Professor Brian Hofman of Ohio Northern University. They touched on subjects including coaching and event management, as well as Title IX which is now in its 50th year. Finally, Professor Hofman explains why Ohio is a great destination for students who would like to pursue a sport related degree or career.
About Professor Brian Hofman
Brian Hofman is an Associate Professor of Sport Management at Ohio Northern University, where he is also Deputy Coordinator of Title IX. Professor Hofman holds a PhD from Toledo University and has taught and coached at ONU for nearly 25 years.
Professor Hofman, prior to your career as an Associate Professor of Sport Management at Ohio NorthernUniversity, you spent time coaching and managing a variety of large athletic events. Can you share your academic and professional journey, and how you found your way into academia?
Professor Hofman: My journey is a bit unique and represents an academic and athletic model that is now rather old and pretty much extinct. It used to be common practice at many institutions where coaches were also professors. Over time this model began to disappear at large institutions, but many small institutions kept that model, and that is how I got my start in academia.
I came to ONU to coach, but I also had teaching responsibilities. It turned out that I loved both of those responsibilities, so I continued my educational career towards a Ph. D. so I could continue to teach once my coaching career was over.
Today, it is scarce that even small size institutions use the model of coach and professor because the demands of coaching have increased so much over the years at all institutions. Still, in my case, I got to encounter the best of both worlds. I could take practical knowledge I was experiencing in coaching, running an athletic facility, and helping host NCAA championship events to the classroom to aid my student’s learning.
Many professors go straight into academia without experiencing with sport management actually looks like on a day-to-day basis on the ground. What should students know about sport and event management in the real world, and how has your experience helped you become a better professor?
Professor Hofman: When it comes to hosting events, you must never forget the number concern is always safety for all participants associated with the event. If you are running an event, the more detailed you are in your planning, the fewer problems or unexpected challenges you will encounter once the event starts.
“When it comes to hosting events, you must never forget the number concern is always safety for all participants associated with the event. If you are running an event, the more detailed you are in your planning, the fewer problems or unexpected challenges you will encounter once the event starts.”
That said, I always plan for the worst, so I try to have multiple options on what we could change, rearrange, etc., if the weather does cooperate, your crowd is larger than expected, some volunteers do not show up, or you end up rowdy fans. Also, keep in mind that running events takes a tremendous amount of time and energy on your part, but the best run events are the ones where you are rarely called upon or seen, which means your event is running smoothly.
My event management experiences have helped me be a better professor because I can develop small, ‘real life’ projects for students to organize and run. In this type of project, I can also challenge students to think outside the box about things they have not been planning on due to their limited knowledge or experience. Sometimes I let a slight misstep happen in the planning and organizing process happen because failure is a great teacher and provides an excellent opportunity to learn from our mistakes.
Professor, you have been working on Title IX and discrimination in sports for years now. Looking back over the last decade-plus, do you feel like we are making progress in the U.S. on these issues? What are some things that still need attention?
Professor Hofman: The year 2022 is the 50th anniversary of Title IX law in the U.S., and the improvements and gains made in women’s sports are unprecedented. Unfortunately, very few institutions are in full compliance with Title IX law. Still, athletic directors, coaches, institutional presidents, chancellors, and the board of trustees are willing to do more for women. The resources for women in sport have dramatically increased, but their share of the financial pie is still very, very small, which is disappointing.
“The resources for women in sport have dramatically increased, but their share of the financial pie is still very, very small, which is disappointing.”
Additionally, Title IX deals with sexual harassment and sexual violence. Sport has had a horrible track record in this area of Title IX. Coaches and trainers have abused far too many athletes, and the issues have been ignored by athletics directors and institutional presidents all in the sake of winning and not having an institution’s name tarnished. In today’s world of instant access to news, hiding this type of incident is hopefully a bygone era of collegiate athletics. Still, history has an unfortunate way of repeating how we treat women and think about women in sport.
I see that you earned your M.A. from Bowling Green State University, your PhD from Toledo, and you now teach at Ohio Northern University. With such a long history in Ohio, why do you think it is a good place to earn a sport-related education?
Ohio is a great place to get a sport management degree for many reasons. First, when it comes to professional sports, Ohio has eight major professional teams which always offer opportunities for sport jobs and the ability to tour facilities, attend a game, volunteer for an event, or listen to experts in those sports.
Additionally, Ohio has many minor league sports that offer great chances to learn a variety of skills during an internship in terms of facilities, ticketing, marketing, social media, and customer relations. Ohio’s large population base also offers tremendous youth sport opportunities, whether through the Ohio High School Athletic Association or the plethora of travel teams in all youth sports today.
“Additionally, Ohio has many minor league sports that offer great chances to learn a variety of skills during an internship in terms of facilities, ticketing, marketing, social media, and customer relations.”
Whether you live in, or visit, one of the major cities in Ohio or live in rural Ohio, you are always close to a great sporting opportunity – whether that opportunity is to learn, start a career, move up in your career, cheer on a team, or plan a social outing with family or friends.
What can you say about the sports economy in Ohio? What are some of the major employers in the sports industry there, and would you recommend it as a destination for a job or an internship?
Professor Hofman: Sports in Ohio will continue to do well no matter the economy. Ohio State athletics is a massive driver of opportunities for jobs and an economic engine that drives Columbus. Fans of the other professional teams in Ohio are incredibly passionate and loyal to their teams, so employment is always needed there.
Also, in more challenging economic times, minor league sports in Ohio offer a great alternative to price-conscious consumers so you can still have an evening out with your family. Due to the number of colleges, universities, and sport organizations in Ohio, the state is an excellent destination for whatever your sporting desires may be because the state has many historical sport attractions as well as attending live games.
With all this diversity in sport opportunities for fans, the need for employees for these many organizations is also prevalent, so with a strong resume and good work ethic, Ohio is a great place to start or end your career in sports.