FOX Sports U: Bringing the Real World into the Classroom

FOX Sports University, founded nine years ago, is the largest, most comprehensive program in the country intent on bridging the gap between academia and the sports industry. Together with 38 acclaimed university partners, the FOX Sports University program provides unique and enriching educational opportunities to students from coast-to-coast.

What do students gain from taking part in FOX Sports U?

By participating in FOX Sports University, students gain necessary tools and resources, and establish networks to make a successful transition from college to their careers of choice through unprecedented exposure to real world challenges. Students are afforded valuable time and critique from FOX Sports executives and on-air talent who have developed their own successful careers in the sports media industry. Through an innovative approach that incorporates current students, alumni, faculty, executives and FOX Sports’ business partners, this program truly brings career development into the classroom.

How does it work?

FOX Sports University pairs business challenges within the sports marketplace that are relevant to course curriculums housed in a variety of top-tier academic institutions. Proposed business challenges focus on a range of disciplines including television production, marketing, digital consumption, research and analytics, and many other areas under the FOX Sports umbrella. Students studying journalism, business or sports management are invited to take charge in providing creative solutions to real world problems in the form of semester-long case studies. Challenges are designed for classes based on the goals and objectives that professors have already established for their courses.

What do these challenges look like?

Projects take on many different forms, touching various aspects across FOX Sports businesses. This spring marks the fifth consecutive year FOX Sports University is partnering with the University of Missouri School of Journalism’s AdZou program. Students were challenged to develop ways to offer fans an opportunity to experience the Super Bowl from a digital and social perspective as FOX Sports prepares to broadcast Super Bowl 51 from Houston in 2017. Students were pushed to think through what types of digital outlets and experiences resonated with them when watching a major live sports event such as the Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, across the country at the University of Washington, recently students teamed up with FOX Sports and Microsoft to recommend ways technology can enhance the fan experience and drive engagement with both FOX Sports media properties and Microsoft’s OneNote product.

More information on project challenges can be found on the FOX Sports University website.

What impact does the FOX Sports University Program have?

As the program has grown and university partnerships deepen, many schools implement a standing course entitled FOX Sports University, requiring students to submit a portfolio and complete an application for admittance. FOX Sports University courses are in high demand, with waiting lists at several schools – and for good reason. Participation in the FOX Sports University program provides a resume-building experience that sets students up for careers within the sports industry, and offers an opportunity to build direct connections with FOX Sports executives and on-air talent. FOX Sports, its regional sports networks, league, team and external partners have gained long-sought insight from a key target audience who develop energized, executable and innovative ideas to keep strategies and content engaging  and relevant.

Have FOX Sports University students been hired?

Since 2008, over 3,500 students have participated in the program to-date, and more than 50 have worked for FOX Sports, either by internship or full-time employment. Several more students have been referred to FOX Sports partners for various employment opportunities as they approach graduation. FOX Sports recognizes the potential for hiring FOX Sports University alumni because of the students’ knowledge of the industry and experience working with a real-world client, viewing each partnership as an opportunity for a semester-long interview. Currently, there are six program alumni who work full-time at FOX, and each are actively giving back to FOX Sports University, as course leads, regional program managers, or execution coordinators. Executives across the company have seen how FOX Sports University prepares students for transition into the workforce.

Do content and ideas inspired by the FOX Sports University program actually get produced and used by FOX Sports?

Yes.  Ideas from classes have been developed and executed on-air, online, in-game, at live sporting events and more. FOX Sports University’s exceptional real-world learning experience for students does not end within the classroom walls. Students who design winning campaigns get to observe their work coming to life through professional executions.   A recent example: the winning team at Seton Hall University was invited to an on-campus set to observe the production of several vignettes, inspired by their concepts, over the course of a two-day production shoot. See more about the students’ experience here.

One vignette focused on Seton Hall women’s basketball coach Anthony Bozzella, an alumnus of the university and a standout coach, mentor and representative of the community. The video was filmed on location by FOX Sports and features insights from Seton Hall employees, students and Coach Bozzella himself. This piece aired on FS2 and the BIG EAST Digital Network.

Have projects been recognized outside of FOX?

Student-generated campaigns have earned impressive recognition, including Emmy, Telly, Addy, Golden Matrix and Promax Awards.