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UO may start sports management program in Portland

Nov 1, 2013


By The Associated Press

PORTLAND — The University of Oregon is taking steps to start a sporting goods product-management program at its Portland campus, where classes would be more accessible to industry professionals than in Eugene.

The Portland area has the highest concentration of footwear distribution and manufacturing in the U.S. Interviews with more than 100 people in the industry and academia exposed a gap in the skills sought at companies like Nike, Adidas America, Columbia Sportswear and others, said Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, an adjunct instructor and former Nike official who is leading the effort.

Portland's program, which is still in a conceptual stage, would prepare students for sports product and apparel management, The Oregonian newspaper reported.

Rob Langstaff, founder of RYZ footwear in Portland, is helping Schmidt-Devlin prepare a potential curriculum.

Though Nike has thrived without local programs, “there are a lot of companies in this town that aren't Nike,” said Langstaff, a one-time Adidas America president who also owns a consultancy. “It's harder now than 20 years ago. The people we see coming out of management programs are not necessarily geared for this level of competition.”

Earlier this year, Portland State University started an Athletic and Outdoor Industry undergraduate certificate program targeting the industry's needs in the region. Paul Swangard, managing director of UO's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, said there's space for both programs in an industry that employs more than 14,000 people statewide at more than 800 companies.

“One could argue that the University of Oregon was at the birth of this industry cluster through programs like Warsaw,” said Swangard. “There's plenty of room for everybody.”

A first move toward growing a UO program in Portland started Friday with the first of four management workshops planned this academic year. The two-day workshop is titled “Sustainability: Design through Manufacturing.”

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Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com

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