The United States Sports Academy began its mission to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports 40 years ago.

Its first two graduates in 1979, were Carmen Charnook-Cellon (left center), whose first job was as an athletic trainer for the U.S. Secret Service, and Viki Ray (right center), who became the head athletic trainer for women’s sports teams at Louisiana State University. Both women graduated with master’s degrees in Sports Medicine.

Today, the Academy has grown into the largest graduate school of sport education in the world and has created sports programs with more than 65 countries across the globe. Now as then, it is the only freestanding school of sport education in the United States and has been called “America’s Sports University.” The school offers accredited programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.

A celebration to mark the Academy’s 40 years of excellence in sports education is scheduled at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 19 at the Academy’s Daphne, Ala., campus. To mark the occasion, the Academy will award Dr. George Uhlig, one of the six founding members of the institution, a Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to education. In addition, the Academy will unveil the “Mr. Baseball” sculpture by Fairhope, Ala., artist Bruce Larsen, the Academy’s 2009 Sport Artist of the Year.

Why have thousands of students chosen the Academy? Read on below to find out answers from  a few of our alumni.


Linda Moore ‘89

ESPN Senior Business Director

Academy Board of Trustees

1989: M.S.S. Sports Management

2007 Alumna of the Year


“If you are looking to get into the sports industry, the Academy can give you what you want. It gave me the sports specific education that I wanted and helped me develop a network of sports professionals around the country and the world. I encourage you to check out the Academy.”


Mike Leach ‘89

Washington State football coach

Alumni Board President

1989: M.S.S. Sports Coaching

2003: Alumnus of the Year


“I wanted to be a football coach and I wanted to get a degree from a place that would put me in that position. I thought the Academy was the most practical way for me to get from point ‘A’ to ‘B.’ Instead of just memorizing facts and figures, the Academy sets you up to get a job. You learn by doing, rather than just talking about it.”


Dennis Lindsey  ‘94

San Antonio Spurs vice president and assistant GM

Alumni Board 1st Vice President

1994: M.S.S. Sports Management

2005 Alumnus of the Year


“The Academy has been a key component in my professional development. It has helped me grow my network at a crucial time in my life. More importantly, the USSA has facilitated personal friendships that will last a lifetime.”


China Jude ‘96

Queens College of The City University of New York

assistant vice president of athletics

1996: M.S.S. Sports Management

2011: Alumna of the Year


“I was coming from a parks and recreation background. I had no collegiate experience. I was very fortunate that by the time I completed the Academy and my mentorship with the Senior Bowl, I really had the ability to look at sports as a business. The Academy really prepared me and gave me confidence and the faculty supported and nurtured me. So when I graduated and started working in 1996, I was off and running. I would definitely recommend the Academy to anyone who really wants to work in sports management whether it’s in the college or the corporate world.”


James Vilade ‘03

Texas Rangers Double A coach and scout

2003: M.S.S. Sports Management

2010: Alumnus of the Year



“It was the best decision I ever made. It was priceless. I appreciated the platform to come to the Academy and study and dream.”


Terry Waldrop ‘93

Texas Wesleyan University men’s head basketball coach

1993: M.S.S. Sports Management

2006 Alumnus of the Year



“I was looking at different options for my master’s degree and came in to see the Dean of Students at the Academy. I realized half way through the conversation that the personal attention and care he showed made this the place I wanted to be. I’m very happy I did come to the Academy because it has opened a lot of doors for me.”


Dr. Howard Bartee Jr. ‘08

Belhaven University Chairman of the Department of Sports Administration

2008: Ed.D. Sports Management

“I’ve always had a passion for sports and all the faculty at the Academy were really supportive of my goals to get into sports management. The doctoral degree gave me the ability to increase my network with other alumni. You can have all the sports knowledge and all the work experience in the world, but the degree really brought it all together for me.”


Ryan Capretta ‘84

Proactive Sports Performance executive director

1984: M.S.S. Sports Management

“I was so glad to latch onto the Academy and go through the program, while I worked full-time as a strength and conditioning coach with the Arizona Cardinals. I could get my master’s and do it on my timetable. It’s a well-rounded program and the classes I took still apply to things I do every day. My education has been a very valuable tool in helping me in my career.”


Jeremy Cox ‘99

University of Nebraska assistant basketball coach

1999: M.S.S. in Sports Management

“As a young coach, my Academy education opened lots of doors for me. It gives you a solid foundation and prepares you to manage a program. People ask me all the time about the Academy and I tell them it will prepare them for collegiate coaching and administration. But the best experience was networking at the Academy, which was incredible. I was able to network and form lasting relationships with coaches my age like Greg McDermott (Creighton University head men’s basketball coach and 1994 master’s in sports management) and Scott Schumacher (North Dakota State College of Science athletic director and head men’s basketball coach and 1990 master’s in sports coaching).”


Derek Demperio ‘10

Onondaga Community College Ogres football team general manager

Current: M.S.S. in Sports Mangement/Sports Coaching Dual Major

2010: B.S.S. Sports Management

“I love it. I absolutely love it. I had wanted to enroll when I finished high school (in 1997) but the Academy didn’t have the bachelor’s program (until 2004). As soon as it did, I jumped on it. I like working online and at your own pace. I was never one to sit still in the classroom. Sometimes it was too fast, sometimes it was too slow. I’ve learned just as much at the Academy as I have at a traditional college.”


Mark Janas ‘11

In3 Inc. Managing Partner

2011: Ed.D. Sports Management

“I already had my MBA but I found in my early experiences working in sports that many business people, including me, were often not well trained, specifically in the business of sport. I really wanted to find a good, solid curriculum that was totally sports specific. The Academy has helped me a lot in my day-to-day business and even spawned a few ideas. The program lends credibility to whatever I do. I’m proud of the school.”


U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Tracy S. Lahr ‘11

2011: Sports Performance Certification

“The Academy’s online courses are beneficial to anyone in the military who has the desire to continue to learn and to improve themselves both mentally and physically. The Academy program provided me with a wealth of information relating to the fitness and nutrition industry. It will be a vital asset to me in both civilian and military life.”


Greg McDermott ’94

Creighton University head men’s baskeball coach

1994: M.S.S. Sports Management

“The United States Sports Academy afforded me the opportunity to earn my master’s degree at a time in my life when attending full-time graduate school was not a possibility. I couldn’t be more pleased with the well-rounded education I received, and the many relationships I developed as a result of the experience.”


Roy Patton ‘02

University of Mobile head men’s soccer coach

2002: Ed.D. Sports Management

“The Academy has been a tremendous help to me as a coach! Some courses immediately shaped my thinking and consequently my behavior as a coach. Other courses cemented my belief that college is a completely different animal from the professional sports entertainment industry. As a result of attending the Academy, I have a heightened commitment to the ideals of the NAIA student-athlete experience.”


Dana Toberer-Proctor ‘97

Fit 360 Personal Training and Sports Performance owner

WNSP Sports Radio talk show host

1997: M.S.S. Sports Management

“When I came to the Academy, I wanted to get into sport administration at a college. I was doing personal fitness training before I got there and it wasn’t working. I didn’t know how to make it happen. When I got back from my mentorship with Nebraska Wesleyan University, I was asked to help manage at the Rock Creek Golf Club (in Fairhope, Ala.). It led me back into personal training. My education at the Academy gave me training not just on the sport side but on the business side. Plus, I developed a lot of strong relationships in this area which helped me grow my business.”


LaTanya Sheffield ‘11

Canyon Del Oro High School (Tucson, Ariz.) track and field coach

1988 Seoul Olympics, 400-meter hurdles

2011: B.S.S. Sports Management

“Not having my degree always was a void for me. There are a lot of components you can’t control in life but education you can. When I was in college, athletics was the No. 1 thing. It was unspoken that you better produce on the field. But education can dictate your future far beyond the Olympics. You can walk on this earth being a gold medalist but that will not secure a career for you. It made sense for me to pursue my degree so I could coach at a whole other level. I would like to go on to coach at the NCAA level.”


Dr. Dave Shrock ‘09

Modesto Junior College track and field coach

USATF Pacific Association vice president and Coaching Committee chair

Academy National Faculty member

2009: Ed.D. Sports Management

“I got my degree later in life, at 57, and I have a lot of pride about earning it. I gleaned a lot on leadership and organizational dynamics. The things I’ve learned I apply every day and will apply them in the future.”