Careers in athletics are not limited to roles on the playing field. Consider Josh Harbolt’s story. He chose business administration with an emphasis in finance as his undergraduate major. Today, he’s employed by an NCAA Division I athletic program.
Harbolt grew up just outside Portland, Oregon and enrolled at Oregon State University for his bachelor’s degree.
“I always thought I wanted to go to law school after I graduated,” he says. “My finance degree was sort of by default because I thought it would be one of the most useful college degrees (of the business degrees offered at Oregon State). During the fall of my senior year I realized I didn’t want to be a lawyer and wanted to pursue a career that involved sports.”
After graduation, Harbolt applied for graduate assistant positions in campus recreation departments across the country. Among the offers he got, he chose to accept a position at the University of Kentucky. As a master’s student, he enrolled in the Sports Leadership program offered by the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion in the UK College of Education.
“UK was the most intriguing because of the great athletic program,” Harbolt said of his options. “Everything I read online lead me to believe that the Sports Leadership program in the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion would help me reach my professional goals.”
During his first semester at UK, Harbolt met a UK Athletics Department employee who came to speak to one of his sports leadership classes. That connection lead to a series of internships, culminating in a job offer when he graduated in May 2013.
Today, he is an accountant in the business office for the UK Athletics Department. He assists with team travel, camp registration, deposits, the budget, inventory, and other miscellaneous tasks. Ultimately, he would like to become an athletics director.
“College athletics is a growing industry and becoming more like a business every day,” says Harbolt. “They need people who understand the policies and procedures, can handle money, and make smart financial decisions. Behind all the fun and games, there are a lot of important decisions to be made. For individuals who like the business side of things but love sports, this a fantastic career to pursue. You may not get the paycheck like you would in corporate business but instead you get the satisfaction of loving what you do every day.”
To learn more about the Sports Leadership program offered by the UK College of Education Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, visit education.uky.edu/KHP/content/masters.