All About McGarry

Jennifer McGarry headshot

Earlier this year, Dr. Jennifer McGarry accepted the highest award you can earn in the field of sport management, the Earle F. Zeigler award.  This award acknowledges significant contributions to the field in terms of scholarship, research, leadership, and peer recognition.  To celebrate this accomplishment we wanted to take a deeper look at how she’s gotten to where she is today, what she’s proud of and how sport has play a role in her life.

Q: How did you get from your undergrad to where you are today?

A: When I graduated undergrad I was planning to be a high school English teacher and volleyball coach. I student taught and coached high school volleyball then had an opportunity to get my master’s degree and gain more experience coaching as a graduate assistant. Once I had that experience, I realized that I wanted to coach in college so I pursued that path and spent 8 seasons at Kenyon College in Ohio. During that time, I took some classes at Ohio State as I knew I wasn’t done with school, but was not sure what was next for me. I discovered sport management at that point and with good mentorship from people I worked with at Kenyon and my future advisor, Donna Pastore, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in sport management at Ohio State. When I completed my degree in 2000, I was still unsure of what was next. I was serving as the interim athletic director at Kenyon and had some interest in exploring athletic administration as a career path, but I also felt strongly about teaching and research so also pursued faculty positions. UConn was the best fit for me of the positions I interviewed for so I accepted the position in the spring of 2001 and have been here ever since.

Q: What are some of your interests/areas of study related to Sport Management?

A: My dissertation focused on the experiences of Black female college athletes as they are overrepresented in certain sports and underrepresented in others. In many ways my dissertation research has shaped every study I have engaged in since. While I do not only focus on Black female college athletes any longer, the implications of what I learned from my dissertation formed the basis for Husky Sport and my scholarship on sport-based youth development and campus-community partnerships. I have also devoted time to studying the experiences of women coaches at the NCAA level as well, both the underrepresentation of Black women at the head coach level and how women navigate motherhood and head coach roles.

Q: What are your goals moving forward?

A: I am currently on sabbatical so I’ve thought a lot about my future goals in expectation of this year, and for what comes next. This year I am focusing on completing projects that I’ve already started and supporting my recently graduated Ph.D. students in publishing their dissertation work as well as my current Ph.D. students who are in various stages of their dissertations. I’ve spent the last five years as department head and have not had the time to focus on research and advising. That’s something I’ve missed and know I could be doing better.

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

A: I spend a lot of time supporting my kids in their academic and athletic activities, so time for family is mostly what I do when I am not working. I also like to stay active. I bike when the weather allows, and began yoga about 4 years ago and have enjoyed that. My sabbatical has also been great for reading. When I am teaching, all of my reading is for classes except for a few books I sneak in during breaks and the summer. This fall, I’ve been reading a lot. My last book was Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy. I’m wishing I would have had the opportunity to hear him speak when he was on campus a few weeks ago. His tireless efforts to change the racist criminal justice system in this country are inspiring.

Q: What in your life/career are you most proud of?Jennie McGarry and her four kids

A: I’m most proud of my family. I have four kids. One who was 2 months old when I accepted the job at UConn and the other three were born while I was on the tenure track. While I certainly struggled to parent and be a professor, I think they all turned out pretty well. My oldest is planning to attend UConn next year and some of his siblings might follow. I enjoy the time I spend with each one of my kids and am looking forward to having one of them at UConn next year.

Q: Who is/was your favorite sport idol?

A: When I was younger, there were even fewer opportunities to see women participating in sports so my idols tended to be male—Ryne Sandberg, Michael Jordan. I did admire Cheryl Miller’s basketball skills and watched her play whenever there was a chance and will never forget when Ann Meyer tried out for the Indiana Pacers when I was a kid. As I grew older and learned more about activist athletes, I spent time reading about Muhammed Ali’s early career and have to say I admire him. And, I have to greatest respect for the women athletes who are fighting for equal treatment and pay today. The entire USWNT and Megan Rapinoe in particular.

Q: What is one quote that you live by or that inspires you? 

A: “You are not lucky. You know what you are? Smart, talented, you take advantage of the opportunities that come your way and you work really, really hard. Don’t ever call yourself lucky. Call yourself a badass.” -Shonda Rhimes


For more information on Dr. McGarry and her Zeigler award, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @UConnSPM, check out Neag’s story from September 2019, and the State of Sport Management’s podcast with Matt Huml, from October 2019.

Career Night in Sport Photos, 2019

The Neag School of Education’s Sport Management Program hosted the annual Career Night in Sport at the UConn Alumni Center on Oct. 24, 2019. The event featured remarks from Doug Glanville, former MLB player and current academic technician with the Department of Educational Leadership, along with networking and sessions on a variety topics such as Navigating the Field, From Graduation to Graduate School, Sport in Education and the Community, Women Working in Sport, and Operations and Event Management.  View the photo album.

UConn Hosts New Sports Analytics Symposium

The UConn Sport Management Program co-sponsored a sport symposium this fall, which was covered by UConn Today.

“Our faculty has expertise directly applicable to sports analytics,” says Yan. “In the future, as our impact grows, the conference will also provide a platform for the sports industry to recruit our students.”

McGarry Receives Highest Honor in Academic Field of Sport Management

“This past summer, the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) formally recognized Neag School Professor Jennifer McGarry as the 2019 recipient of its most prestigious honor: the Earle F. Zeigler Lecture Award. The Zeigler Award, the highest distinction one can earn in the academic field of sport management, acknowledges significant contributions to the field in terms of scholarship, research, leadership, and peer recognition.” Read the full Neag School of Education article here.  Also available from UConn Today.

Staying in Storrs: SPM Alumnus on Networking and NCAA Rules

The University of Connecticut’s Department of Educational Leadership is fortunate to have well-connected alumni who continue to work with the university post-graduation or who have returned after years of work in diverse professional settings. The “Staying in Storrs” series highlights our talented EDLR program alumni and the work they are currently doing with UConn. This feature focuses on the Sport Management Program.

Eric Schneider headshotEric Schneider, the current Assistant Athletic Director for the University of Connecticut’s Athletic Compliance Department, is a proud UConn Sport Management alumnus. Schneider, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management returned to Storrs in November of 2017 to work at his alma mater. 

During his time as an undergraduate student at UConn, Schneider took full advantage of the Sport Management Program, both inside and outside of the classroom, which broadened his perspective on sports. His interest in NCAA rules and interpretations grew tremendously during this time. In the sport world, it’s important to look at the whole picture and know what goes on behind the scenes – from the individual player experience to the individual fan experience. Schneider says,

“Overall the Sport Management Program exposed me to all different levels of sports.” 

Schneider believes that it is important to work with experts in all different levels of sports. He says that it allows for collaboration and is a way to see how the rules are interpreted differently.

After graduating from UConn, Schneider went on to earn a Master’s degree in Sport Management from Adelphi University, where he continued to gain valuable experience. He took on several coaching jobs, which he says he enjoyed as they gave him the opportunity to learn about sports from an NCAA and legal angle. He then completed a variety of impressive internships, and worked for the NCAA in its Academic and Membership Affairs division.

In the fall of 2017, Schneider returned to UConn because of the impactful role he felt the Sport Management Program had on his success. He credits the program for providing exposure and preparation for the professional world which helped him identify the trajectory of his career path.

In his position, he is responsible for answering questions when it comes to rule interpretations, so having an idea of the possible ways the rules can be (mis)interpreted allows him to not only give better answers, but to also improve the educational materials he provides to the athletic staff. Schneider expresses that he loves his job because of the many roles he has which include: ensuring that staff, coaches, and athletes are following NCAA rules and integrity, verifying eligibility standards for student-athletes, and creating educational materials to inform the athletic community about University rules and regulations. 

Schneider’s advice to aspiring sport professionals is to focus on networking. Networking in the sport industry is crucial to being successful, he says, because it is the best way to expose yourself to new opportunities. Forming connections and building relationships with a broad network of people in the field is something that Schneider did as a student and is something he credits to where he is today.