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Special Event Allows Students to Explore Careers in Athletic Compliance

Sports Industry Professional Day 2023
Sport Industry Professional Day, September 2023

York College of Pennsylvania Sport Management majors learned about their options at the fall semester Sport Industry Professional Day.

York College of Pennsylvania’s Sport Management program hosted a Sport Industry Professional Day in September 2023, a once-a-semester event aimed at exposing students to various aspects of the sport industry.

The theme, “New Changes in Law and Policy in the Sport Landscape―New Opportunities for You,” focused on several recent significant shifts in the sports world. The seminar delved into the subjects of name, image and likeness (NIL), sports betting, and athletic compliance.

“We wanted students to understand the many interesting opportunities evolving in the sport landscape right now,” says Dr. Molly Hayes Sauder, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management at York College.

At the event, Kayla Carr ’23, Assistant Director of Compliance and Student-Athlete Support Services at Saint Francis University in Loretto, PA, shared her journey into the field of athletic compliance.

Athletic compliance involves the adherence to rules and regulations set by sports organizations, particularly in college athletics, to ensure fair play, ethical conduct, and that student-athletes and institutions abide by eligibility requirements.

Standing out from the crowd

Carr’s decision to study Sport Management at York College was influenced by the program’s small size and personalized approach.

“I liked knowing my professors and that they had my best interests in mind,” she says.

Her interest in Sport Management was further fueled by the program’s diverse opportunities, including trips to events such as Major League Baseball spring training in Florida and the Super Bowl.

After receiving an opportunity from the Sport Management Program to join Women Leaders in College Athletics, Carr participated in a mentorship program that laid the foundation for her specialization in athletic compliance. With every conversation Carr had with her mentor, her interest in athletic compliance grew. The mentorship also helped her expand her network and eventually serve a senior internship that would lead to her first job after college.

That internship landed her in the Athletics Department at Saint Francis University. Her experiences at York College, especially through her small class sizes, practicums, and real-world training, equipped her with the professionalism needed to stand out at Saint Francis. In the first month of her internship, the university offered her a full-time post-graduation position in athletic compliance.

A viable career option

Returning to York College to speak about athletic compliance shortly after graduating was a surreal experience for Carr. But participating as a speaker helped solidify the fact that she officially has transitioned into a professional in her industry.

Athletic compliance offers a typical 9-to-5 work schedule, Carr says, making it a great career choice for those who prefer a work-life balance not available in many time-demanding athletics jobs. She also sees athletic compliance as a good opportunity for someone who enjoys dealing with the law but doesn’t want a law degree or isn’t ready to attend law school.

Two of the York College Sport Management majors who attended the event, PJ Hanlon ’24 and Brooke Cordisco ’24, discovered their own interest in athletic compliance as a career option through Carr’s presentation.

PJ learned of the field through a law class at York College. The Sport Industry Professional Day opened his eyes to the depth and significance of compliance work in the NCAA.

“I’ve always been interested in sports. I’ve played sports my whole life,” he says. “I knew I wanted to be involved in some aspect for a career, and York College has a really good program.”

In Spring 2024, PJ will complete his senior internship at Lebanon Valley College’s Athletics Department. While his main interest is game-day operations, connecting with Carr sparked a deeper interest in athletic compliance.

“I can see myself working within compliance,” he says. “Talking to (Carr) made me see that it’s an untapped field.”

From skepticism to enthusiasm

Brooke, who is minoring in Management, initially had reservations about pursuing a career in athletic compliance. The Sport Industry Professional Day changed her perspective. 

“After hearing their stories and what they do as jobs, it immediately spoke to me and I could see myself doing this,” she says.

As a collegiate field hockey player, she recognizes the importance of eligibility and the need for ethical practices in athletic departments.

Brooke’s upcoming senior internship at Moravian University was to focus on event operations, administration, and fundraising. After the Professional Day, she contacted the university to ask if she could include athletic compliance in the internship. The university was happy to accommodate. Brooke is excited to take her newfound knowledge and apply it to hands-on training.

Building a network

Whether or not they end up pursuing careers in athletic compliance, Brooke and PJ have seen the importance of networking and leveraging the opportunities provided by the Sport Management program. With the diverse career avenues available in the expansive field, both believe that York College has prepared them for working in the industry.

“Network as much as you can,” Brooke says. “A simple hello, a simple chat can go a long way.”

Offering advice to aspiring Sport Management professionals, Carr emphasized the value of seizing every chance that comes along while in school.

“Take as many opportunities as you can during college,” she says. “You never know how it’s going to impact your career in the future.”