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ACU Announces New Master of Science in Sports Leadership

Abilene Christian University (ACU) has launched a new online master’s degree in Sports Leadership focused on equipping prospective or current sports professionals in enhancing their experience with foundational and academically-based strategies to become effective coaches, sports administrators, and sports brand leaders. 

Led by a diverse array of sports professionals, interdisciplinary professors, and practitioners, the program is designed to prepare graduate students with the required skills and strategies to guide athletes to achieve their greatest potential and sports business leaders to maximize organizational performance

“ACU holds a unique opportunity to attract students interested in pursuing a career in the  sports industry, and current sports administrators to enhance their vocational formation and create a new generation of ethical leaders in sports organizations,” said Dr. Stephen Johnson, chief executive officer of ACU Dallas. 

The Master of Science in Sports Leadership program will lead students through a set of core curriculum courses in leadership, communication, team development, preventive injury care, and personal leadership styles. With three distinct concentrations in coaching, athletic administration, and analytics, this program aims to propel each student’s prospective or current career goals toward greater competence and professional development. 

Examples of coursework include:

  • Ethics and Legal Issues in Sport
  • Self-Assessment in Sports Leadership
  • Teams & Team Leadership
  • Sports Foundations 

The program is now accepting applications for the first class beginning August 20, 2024. With hopes of attracting students from a variety of sports settings, the program is already receiving positive interest from high-profile professionals including Del Matthews, vice president of baseball development at Major League Baseball, who has enrolled in the inaugural cohort. 


Del Matthews
Del Matthews, vice president of baseball development at Major League Baseball

“I’ve been contemplating pursuing my master’s degree for about 6 or 7 years now, and as I’ve progressed in my career, the inspiration to further my education has only grown stronger,” said Matthews. “As someone deeply entrenched in the sports industry, I recognize the importance of staying current, especially with the influx of young talent entering the market. ACU’s online program offers the flexibility I need to balance the demands of my job while pursuing my academic goals.”

When asked why he chose ACU’s program, Matthews said, “I chose ACU because I firmly believe in the importance of faith, and integrating it into my education is integral to me. I’ve never had the opportunity to study at a Christian university before, and I’m excited to learn alongside like-minded individuals from a kingdom perspective.”

Developing new partnerships with major sports organizations, ACU has created a premier educational learning initiative to equip professional athletes and sports management executives with strategies for effective leadership and greater mental preparation. In 2022, ACU launched an educational partnership with the Texas Rangers called RangersU powered by ACU, which offers online academic courses for players, coaches, and staff interested in enhancing their leadership development, professional skills, and knowledge of all things baseball. Under the direction of Dr. Daryl L. Jones, vice president, sport leadership and learning, ACU’s Sports Leadership and Learning division focuses on creating content that will help learners develop new skills for their careers beyond the field of play. 

“ACU Online is quickly and strategically becoming a top-tier educational resource for sports leaders and their organizations looking to enhance their players’ and managers’ leadership skills, academic qualifications, and personal development,” said Jones. “Our team is excited about this new program and what it can offer professionals looking for a university dedicated to bringing in more sports-focused content and degrees.” 

For more information on the fully online Master of Science in Sports Leadership, please visit

– Amanda Gibson
March 25, 2024

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