Last Updated on August 6, 2023
Interview with Professor Dan McClintock
Bryan Haggerty of Sports Degrees Online had the chance to catch up with Dan McClintock, professor of sport and entertainment management at Grand Canyon University. In this conversation, Professor McClintock shares his journey as a basketball player and making the transition to a career in sports, how online degrees have changed the landscape, and the impact of GCU's recent NCAA tournament birth on the school's sport management program.
About Professor Dan McClintock
Dan McClintock is a professor of sport and entertainment management at Grand Canyon University. Before launching his career in academia, Dan played professional basketball for 14 years in leagues around the world, starting in the NBA before spending time in Italy, Ukraine, Monaco, and China.
Sports Degrees Online: We’re joined today by Professor Dan McClintock, professor of sport and entertainment management at Grand Canyon University. Welcome to the show, professor. Thanks for taking some time to speak with us.
Professor Dan McClintock: No, Bryan – thanks for having me! It’s an exciting opportunity to be on your platform and I’m really excited because of the goals that you guys have. We’re really aligned in that aspect.
Sports Degrees Online: Awesome. So professor, first I’d like to dive into the past a little bit. Prior to your career in academia, you spent 14 years or so playing professional basketball all around the world. Would you share a bit about your journey as a professional athlete?
Professor Dan McClintock: Yeah, sure. I graduated from Northern Arizona in 2000, and from there I went and I played with the Denver Nuggets for just a short spell. And then for my next 12-13 years, I was in Europe, with one year in Asia. And it was a great opportunity not only to see the world, but also just to learn different cultures alongside of having the sports culture as well. Because country to country, the sport and the product stays the same, but the culture around that sport is vastly different.
Sports Degrees Online: What were some of the countries that you spent time in Europe?
Professor Dan McClintock: So I was in Italy, Ukraine, Latvia, Germany, France, Monaco I think that’s all of them.
Sports Degrees Online: Was there ever a point where you thought you might stay over in Europe or stay one of the places you lived or you always knew you’d come back to the States?
Professor Dan McClintock: There’s the old adage, ‘there’s no place like home’, and I think that rang true for me. I loved Europe and I would stay there usually ten or eleven months out of the year. But you have family, you have grounds that root you in a place like family and friends. However, in saying that, I loved Europe and I try to go back as much as possible, but Arizona for me is home.
Sports Degrees Online: I can hear that. Now. Professor, can you talk a bit about when you drew to the end of your career as an athlete? Did you always knew you wanted to get into the sports industry?
Professor Dan McClintock: When you’re dealing with sports, especially from an athlete perspective side, you know that there’s a time limit because your body eventually is going to start wearing down and there’s always the next generation who’s going to be bigger and faster and can recover a lot faster. That’s what a lot of people don’t realize. It’s not so much the talent and the ability to compete, it’s the recovery time that usually will end their career.
And I knew that at some point I was only one injury away from having to give up my sports career. So it was always something in the back of my mind was, how am I going to make a next step into a career? And especially being around sports, even in my youth, I found that sports is something I was passionate about.
Once you get into professional side of sports, you realize that the sports aspect is simply the product. And if you love the product, then nine times out of ten, you’re going to love the job. And I knew that I wanted to try to stay in sports in some aspect, and it just so happens that I was blessed with the ability to make connections and make contacts that got me into teaching again, a product that I love.
Sports Degrees Online: Awesome. Now, one of our goals at Sports Degrees Online is to help student athletes make the transition from being athletes to the professional world. In looking at how you made the transition, in this case to academia, were there certain traits that you had as an athlete that you found that helped you succeed beyond being an athlete, or were there traits you had to change or evolve as you went forward?
Professor Dan McClintock: I think that you can learn a lot from sports. The first is the amount of people that you meet playing sports, whether it be teammates, coaches, any other kind of staff that’s around a particular team.
And I think that there’s a certain amount of trust that you build in a team, a certain amount of relationships, and you also have a lot of conflict sometimes within a team, within the competition itself. And I think these are all viable once you make that move into the career, because now you might necessarily have a coach that you didn’t like when you played sports.
Now, if you have confrontation with supervisors above you, you already went through that experience. Also, you also have a respect for people in leadership and their position. And I think that once you make that transition, the only thing that really changes is simply the title from coach to supervisor or coach to manager. And now that person becomes that next coaching, that coaching figure.
I think it also instills not only leadership qualities, but also how to follow. And I think that’s really important too. It’s okay to lead, but one of the main important aspects of being a leader is do you have the ability to follow? And so that’s why you usually tell a lot of young student athletes, is they use the tools of relationships because that’s what’s going to carry you on to your career.
Sports Degrees Online: Awesome. I’ve spoken to a few people in these interviews. I’ve never heard that somebody explain that ability to follow as being so important and likening the coach to the manager. I think that’s really insightful and really useful for former athletes. Professor, switching gears a little bit.
At Grand Canyon University, you offer a bachelor’s degree in sport and entertainment, both on campus and online. As someone who’s been teaching for the last several years and the landscape has obviously evolved with COVID and everything, what are some of the ways that online degree programs like yours have changed things for potential students?
Professor Dan McClintock: I think that online programs give a different aspect of how you build relationships and how you network those relationships. Because Brian, at the end of the day, a lot of jobs are now acquired by who you know, and a lot of that has to that network, especially in sports, is it’s such a tight knit community that if you have a really strong personal network that’s really going to give you a leg up, especially as you’re just entering the career field.
Even our conversation here, we’ve never met face to face, even though I hope we get too soon. This is a purely online relationship, but at the same time it’s mutually beneficial to not only to us, but to whoever it is that we’re trying to reach now. They have just a couple more steps in their networking opportunity to reach out. And now we have common people, common places that we can come together and start forming relationships.
Sports Degrees Online: So when you’re talking about building those networks that are so important in sports, do you feel like it’s possible to do that at the same level in an online degree program?
Professor Dan McClintock: I think that once you get to an online degree program, the one challenge that is a challenging aspect, not necessarily being negative, is that you have to take the extra steps to get yourself out there in whatever region that you’re in.
However, again, you can go back and reach out to at Grand Canyon we have a lot of instructors not only in sports entertainment, but on business as a whole. You could reach out and use our network to see if our network has anybody in those regions that can help connect you. So you can take a step out to go and get face to face meetings with those folks in those regions, in those areas. But there is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with being remote, is that you have to take certain initiatives to get yourself in front of people.
Sports Degrees Online: Okay, yeah, that makes sense. Now, professor, there are so many sport management programs out there, including upwards of three or four dozen, maybe more fully online options these days. For students who are just beginning their search, it may be overwhelming for them to choose which program is the best fit. What factors should they keep in mind if they’re trying to choose a program, whether it be online or on campus?
Professor Dan McClintock: I think the first thing is diversity in what you’re going to learn and who’s giving you that industry experience. I can’t speak of the other programs, I can only speak of Grand Canyon. But the amount of experience that we have within the sports and entertainment industry here is [impressive] – we have lawyers who used to be agents in the NFL. We have people who used to run facilities and operation management. We have people who were in the NBA marketing. I was a player, and I also did operations for other professional organizations. So you get a taste and a feel of everything that you’re looking for in order to make your own career choices.
I kind of liken it to a dinner. If I’m going to go have a nice steak dinner, I just don’t go there. The steak is the main portion, but I also really like sides. Right. So what kind of sides are they going to offer me to complement my steak? And that’s what’s the great thing about grand canyon, is that we have the product itself is covered at all angles. But what kind of diversity do we have and what kind of diversity do we have in our ability to network and to push our students out and to see kind of what field they want to get into? Nice.
Sports Degrees Online: Now, your program is sport and entertainment management. So that’s kind of a differentiating factor from other programs in itself. What would you say? What’s the value of having that entertainment aspect instead of just sport management?
Professor Dan McClintock: Right, because that’s a great question that we get quite a bit why the entertainment side of it is added is because at the raw form, the profits are made from sports are going to be made from an entertainment standpoint. If you don’t have an entertaining product, then the chances are you’re not going to end up making any profits from that. Now, even if you want to go all the way down, take it all the way down to the high school level. Right. If that high school team is not performing, then people from the town aren’t going to want to even come and support the program, which then in turn gets more money into the program. And so that’s something that we really strive for is, okay, it’s the sport, but we take it to a next level of there’s a huge entertainment component that also comes with the sports piece as well.
Sports Degrees Online: Okay, great. Now in this sport and entertainment management program at Grand Canyon, you guys require 300 internship hours throughout the course of study. Why are these so important for sport related degree programs?
Professor Dan McClintock: One of the main reasons why we do it is to get the students out there, and we also encourage the students to take those those 300 hours and try to go in different fields of service within the industry. I think it’s important that just because you like a certain sport, let’s say you’re a baseball fan, you want to get in that industry. I think it’s important that not only do you learn all aspects about that industry, but I think it’s important that maybe you try different aspects of the business and say you go into marketing, you do an internship for the summer and marketing, you don’t necessarily like it, maybe it’s not a good fit for you. At least you have some kind of comprehension of what goes into marketing. So then once you go, let’s say go to the operations side, it’s easy for you to now to transition between having conversations from those within the marketing department because you have a better perspective of where everybody at the table is coming from. Okay, that makes sense.
Sports Degrees Online: Some students out there might be skeptical of choosing their program online because they’re not sure how the internship component will be delivered. Based on your experience, do you think that’s a legitimate concern?
Professor Dan McClintock: I would definitely give value to that concern. But again, what’s great about sports business is that there’s sports in almost anywhere that student is being placed in their region, in their city, that there’s going to be some kind of sports internship available to them because globally, sports and entertainment is widely available.
Sports Degrees Online: And how does it work? Is there like an advisor at grand canyon that would coordinate with those local internship managers or how involved is your staff in the process of setting it up and setting expectations?
Professor Dan McClintock: Yeah, we have a pretty hands on approach, especially when it comes to internships, especially when we’re going to be the ones that because we have a lot of students that come to us and as instructors and say, hey, looking for an internship possibility? Do you guys have any possibilities?
Now once you come into again, go back to network. Once you come into our network now, we’ve already kind of vetted what we think is going to be the most valuable internship opportunities for students. That’s not to say that we also put it on the students themselves to go out and try to find their own opportunities because I think as you move forward in your career that’s an important component to have is to go out and step out there and try to make your own connections.
And not only that, but you learn from those connections and you learn from those mistakes. It’s not necessarily negative to hear the word no. You just take the no and you figure out how to build that into success. So we try to stay on top of the internships, but we also want to give students the freedom to go out and explore their own opportunities.
Sports Degrees Online: Now, professor, I was happy to see watching March madness recently that grand canyon made the NCAAs this year that we did. That’s awesome. I was very happy to do that. So what does the sport and entertainment management program take away from that experience of having the team make the tournament?
Professor Dan McClintock: Yeah. I mean, from a classroom perspective, it was a great opportunity to see how Grand Canyon gets put on a map of just legitimacy itself. The exposure that March madness gives, especially with a non football school like Grand Canyon, the men’s basketball program has that added pressure of trying to get on the national stage, which they’ve been growing progressively each and every year, and they’ve represented it very well. So I think from a sports management point of view, it’s a great opportunity to use that to show students this is what it takes. And look at now, in a couple of years, we can go back and look at hey, let’s look at the metrics on how if a team makes the tournament, how does that directly affect enrollment?
Sports Degrees Online: Awesome. All right, Professor, I have a two part final question for you. The first is to let you basically talk about the program at Grand Canyon. We’ve already been talking about it, but are there any kind of selling points that we haven’t discussed about why if students are close between choosing a program at Grand Canyon, what would kind of push them over the edge, or what’s your kind of trump card for the Grand Canyon program?
Professor Dan McClintock: Awesome. I think that the one aspect that kind of pushes Grand Canyon up as one of the top sports business schools is that just the college of business itself is the Calangelo College of Business, which is named after Jerry Calangelo. And if you’re talking from just a sports business aspect, he’s very hands on with the sports business program. And you can’t really get much higher of a person with connections and experience as Jerry Calangelo is.
Especially since he’s so passionate about sports business, he’s always talking with our students, helping our students, giving advice to our students. And this is a piece that is priceless in terms of having face again, getting face to face, having the ability to ask a sports industry leader like Jerry Kalangeau, who’s been in all types of sports, just the basic questions, hey, how did you start off, how did you get to this level? How did you get involved with USA Basketball? How is it running with the Olympics? And how did you choose personnel and how did you put egos aside? This is all valuable experience that I think that this separates Grand Canyon from other schools.
Sports Degrees Online: Professor, why do you feel Arizona generally and Phoenix specifically is an ideal place to study sport management?
Professor Dan McClintock: Number one is just the amount of sports opportunities that Phoenix has. Obviously, we have all the major sports itself. Then we have a really good soccer team that’s kind of second tier, but they’re really good. We also have just grand Canyon itself is up and coming in athletics.
And I think what kind of gives us an opportunity that maybe some locations don’t have as well is the weather, which plays a big part in opportunities that come with having good weather. Like right now, I should have brought numbers with me, but we have quite a few students who are working with either spring training facilities or with all the baseball teams from the major league that are here during during spring training.
And not only when they leave, but they also have for rookies and young players, they stay here even longer. So there’s a lot of opportunities for that. And also, again our network within the staff here at Grand Canyon, we have great relationships with all the sport, the major sports clubs here in Arizona.
Sports Degrees Online: Awesome. Great. Professor, thanks for your time, I really appreciate it. Wishing you all the best at Grand Canyon and I’m sure we’ll be in touch before too long.
Professor Dan McClintock: Great, sounds good. Thanks Brian. Thanks for the opportunity.
Sports Degrees Online: Special thanks to Professor Dan McClintock special thanks to Japhy Ryder for the original audio out of Burlington, Vermont. And as always, for the best information about sports degrees and careers, visit sportsdegreesonline.org.