The Laurentian Sports Administration Program celebrates its 50th anniversary

Laurentian University’s Sports Administration program celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Alumni of the SPAD program, as it is commonly known, have gone on to work for teams in every major sports league in North America and have had successful careers outside of sports as well.

Kyle Davidson, the general manager of the Chicago NHL team, and Thomas Greco, the CEO of Advance Auto Parts are among those alumni.

When the program began in 1972, it was unique in Canada, said SPAD director Anthony Church.

Church said Clarence Campbell, who was NHL commissioner at the time, complained to the CBC that people in sports don’t understand business and people in business don’t understand sports.

« At the time, the directors of our business school and our physical education program heard this and got together and tried to figure out what would be the best way to solve this problem, » Church said.

They proposed a program that would allow students to earn a business degree, but that also emphasized sports.

Laurentian’s sports administration program dates back to the early 1970s. (Submitted by SPAD Stories)

Church said a few similar programs existed in the United States in the early 1970s, but this was the first of its kind in Canada.

As alumni went on to successful careers, the program established a reputation and continued to grow.

At its peak, Church said it would receive 400 applications for 70 available places. But in recent years, he said the program hasn’t met that quota because of financial difficulties at Laurentian.

The university filed for bankruptcy in February 2021. It cut 69 programs and laid off nearly 200 staff and faculty members in April of the same year due to its financial situation.

« We’re hopeful and optimistic that we’ll get back to where we were once we’re on a stronger footing here as an institution, » Church said.

Before Laurentian filed for bankruptcy, the program also attracted students from across Canada. Church said 90% of students come from communities outside of Sudbury.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, SPAD alumni hosted a fundraising gala at Toronto’s Liberty Grand on Thursday, October 13.

There will also be a meet and greet event at Science North in Sudbury on Friday. Alumni are also encouraged to volunteer at the Elgin Street Mission in Sudbury on Saturday.

« Seeing graduates give back to SPAD and Sudbury demonstrates their passion and commitment, » said Jeff Bangs, chair of Laurentian University’s board of governors, in a press release.

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