Virginia Tech major fuses sports media and analytics
January 28, 2020
For students enrolled in Virginia Tech’s new sports media and analytics major, the classroom extends across campus and beyond.
“Our classroom is Lane Stadium. It’s Cassell Coliseum. It’s English Field,” said Bill Roth, a professor of practice in the Department of Communication. “We send students to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York for the ACC Tournament. That’s a classroom for us.”
Roth, the long-time, legendary Voice of the Hokies, provided radio play-by-play for Virginia Tech football and men’s basketball for 27 years. During that time, he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, and the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association named him the state’s Sportscaster of the Year an unprecedented 11 times.
Gaining real-world experience in NCAA Division I sporting events while learning the keys to success in an evolving industry can lead to a rewarding career, Roth said. The sports media and analytics major prepares students to produce and deliver sports news, consider ways to promote the sports industry, and analyze data related to sports accomplishments, fan participation, and social media.
“Sports continues to be one of the fastest growing industries in America and around the world,” said Robert Denton, head of the Department of Communication. “Job opportunities are across all forms of sports, media, and communication platforms. And the demand for sports programming and information is the fastest growing segment of the entertainment industry.”
Virginia Tech has a rich tradition in athletics in addition to academics, generating interest in sports-related degrees. The Department of Communication first introduced sports media and analytics as a concentration in 2016 before creating the major this academic year.
“Understanding patterns in data is important within the sports industry,” said Roth. “Whether you’re the general manager of a team, a sports broadcaster, or the program director of a TV station deciding when and where games should be played, analytics are crucial.”
Evan Hughes, a junior, said he’s passionate about sports broadcasting and thrilled by the opportunity to major in sports media and analytics at Virginia Tech. He pointed to the program’s new major status, and the establishment of a new communication studio set at the Moss Arts Center as examples of rapid growth.
“It feels like there’s something new, big, and exciting happening in our program every few weeks,” said Hughes. “We are at a point right now where we are putting ourselves on the map for people around the country. If you want to be in sports media, Virginia Tech’s the place.”
Hughes said he’s already gained multiple internships, including as a broadcaster in a collegiate summer baseball league, sideline reporter for an ESPN-affiliate network, and a podcast host.
“Through this program, you learn the tools you need in the classroom, then you apply it in the real world,” said Hughes. “I’m proud to be part of the first graduating class for sports media and analytics.”
Denton anticipates more than 200 students enrolled in the new major within the next few years.
“Because of our great sports tradition and environment, students with interest in sports media gravitate to our new program,” said Denton. “Our state-of-the-art facilities, experiential learning opportunities, and award-winning faculty prepare students for a successful career in sports media and analytics.”
Written by Andrew Adkins