Q + A with Sport Management Program Director Carol McGregor
It doesn’t take long talking to Carol McGregor, the Sport Management Program Director and Assistant Athletic Director at Grace, to recognize that she deeply and authentically cares for those around her. Whether it be a colleague in a meeting, an athlete on the court, or a student in her class – she is dedicated to reminding those in her presence what grace is all about.
Although she’s been at Grace for several years, she’s stepping away from her role as an Assistant Women’s Basketball coach and into a new role as a full-time faculty member this year. We sat down to ask her more about her career in coaching, teaching, and athletic administration and how that shapes her vision for the sport management program at Grace going forward.
When were you first exposed to sports?
One of my very earliest memories is Christmas when I was three. I received a plastic Fisher Price basketball hoop, and I remember my dad saying, “Carol, show the family your follow through.” So sports have been a factor in my life for as long as I can remember. My dad was well-versed enough to have us do everything as children; we took swimming lessons at the local pool, had tennis lessons for three summers, played soccer for a year, and played t-ball. In junior high, I started to focus on basketball, but even through high school, I was a three-sport athlete. In college, I went on to play Division I basketball at Purdue University.
Growing up in a Christian home, was there always a strong correlation between your faith and athletics?
To be transparent, no. Even though I was a Christian, I didn’t always do a great job showing up as a Christian athlete. It wasn’t until later on, as a 27-year-old, that my faith was revived. My grandmother, a woman of strong faith, was experiencing declining health. During that time, my family decided it would be good for me to move in and care for her. Over that last year of her life, I was so encouraged by her assurance of faith. That was life-changing for me.
Tell us a little bit about your higher education journey.
I am a liberal arts nerd. When I talk to prospective students I always mention the beauty of minors. I majored in English at Purdue and had four minors: communication, history, psychology, and women’s studies. These prepared me for coaching collegiate athletes. After that, I went to Northwestern University to pursue a master’s in sports administration. Coaching was always the end goal.
Where did your career take you after graduate school?
I was first an assistant director of basketball operations and then a full-time assistant coach at Northwestern University where I was attending graduate school. After that, I coached at Murray State in Murray, Kentucky for two years before taking six months off to finish my thesis for graduate school. During that time, I started youth coaching for Gym Rats at Spiece Fieldhouse and got my personal training and weight lifting certifications. Then I was an insurance agent for two years and continued coaching on the side for the University of St. Francis before I got back into full-time coaching at Purdue-Fort Wayne for two seasons.
How did you end up at Grace?
During my time at Purdue University Fort Wayne, I had my daughter, and I decided I needed a job that allowed for more flexibility. I knew this was the case at the NAIA level. During the job search process, I always told my husband, “Indiana Tech or Grace College – if something opens up at these two institutions – we’re going for it.” And we did!
Tell us a little bit about your family.
My husband, Ross, is in industrial sales for Reelcraft in Columbia City. My daughter, Blair, is five, and my son, Duncan, is one.
After coaching at several schools, what do you think sets Grace athletics apart from the rest?
First and foremost, our Athletic Director, Chad Briscoe, is an amazing leader. And working with coach Davis has been a blast. He is a massive ball of energy, and he focuses on developing women as individuals, leaders, and Christians. He helps me get out of my Division I mindset where I’m solely focused on winning. I went from playing and working for programs where there is a thick rulebook that sits between a coach and a player. But at Grace, we break that barrier and sit next to our players. I love being able to side up with someone and connect – to get to know them and what will help them most.
What does your role as assistant athletic director entail?
My role has evolved over the years, but now I’m focusing on assisting our student advisory committee and being a presence for female athletes. As a senior woman administrator, I hope to visit practices, attend games, and let our female athletes know they have someone in their corner.
What excites you most about transitioning into a full-time faculty role?
For the past several years, most of my focus has been on 15 female basketball players, which I’ve absolutely loved. But I look forward to expanding my focus to include female athletes and sport management students. I’m excited to get to know my students and be a true mentor to them. I want to keep my doors open to them and be available to a larger group of students.
When most people think about sport management, they think of coaching. What can you do with a sports management degree beyond coaching?
Parents often come to my office skeptical. They ask, “What can you do with a sports management degree?” But I let them know, the better question is: What can’t you do? We are fortunate to be housed in the School of Business, because when we pause and think about it – sport is business. You’re not just watching games, you’re watching sponsorships, commercial deals, and products. Especially now with social media branding, athletes have a brand and a likeness that they can leverage for business purposes. That’s where sport management comes in. Any business job you can think of also exists within the world of sports. From sports marketing to sports media, sports information to data analytics and statistics. You also have sport psychology, physical strength and conditioning coaching, and individual skill development. It’s a huge field, and it can take you so many places – coaching is just a scratch on the surface.
What is your vision for the program?
I always try to emphasize that my four years of college are done. I’m trying to come alongside you and help you find what most fulfills you. My first goal is to ensure that my students’ college experience aligns with their morals and values and to encourage them to pursue God to the best of their ability in their careers. That’s what my job is all about.
Learn more about the sport management program at Grace.