Standing at 6-foot-4, Sean Bourke fits right in with the third cohort in the master of arts in business with a specialization in intercollegiate athletic administration (MAIAA) program in the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Like Bourke, four other students over six feet tall and eight former collegiate student-athletes are current students in the program that blends business and sports administration.
Bourke played basketball at Loras College, a NCAA Division III school in Dubuque, Iowa. A native of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, he played forward for the Duhawks for four years.
“I had a different collegiate experience than many people perceive because Division III athletes are not awarded athletic scholarships. I had a student-athlete schedule and lifestyle, including long practices and travel. The love of the game motivated me,” Bourke said.
Bourke graduated in the spring of 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in finance and sport management and was selected as one of 12 students to join the exclusive MAIAA program at CBA this fall. All 12 students receive a competitive full-funding package, where they work as graduate assistants in CBA the first year and the Nebraska Department of Athletics the second year.
“The competitive graduate assistantship offered to students in the program was the number one reason I chose Nebraska. Nowhere else are you offered a debt-free education with hands-on, front row experience in an athletics department,” Bourke said.
But something else propelled Bourke to continue his education in business and athletics. In 2002, his mother Kim lost her battle with breast cancer. He felt athletic activities remained a constant in his life when so much had changed.
“It’s hard to go through that kind of loss at a young age. Sports kept me busy and gave me something to look forward to,” he said. “When you are playing a game or at practice, it becomes your entire world in that moment. Being involved in so many athletic activities helped me get through a difficult time and it’s one of the many reasons I believe in the importance of athletics.”
Bourke hopes to work in intercollegiate athletics as a leader who advocates for student-athletes who similarly envision sports as life-changing. He is in his first year of the MAIAA program and serves as a graduate assistant in the undergraduate course Business Computer Applications (BSAD 150). He hopes to work in athletic development, fundraising or corporate sponsorships following graduation in 2018.
Founded in 2014, the 36-credit-hour MAIAA program combines a Big Ten graduate business degree, and hands-on experience in the Nebraska Department of Athletics. The on-campus, cohort-style program is a joint collaboration between Dr. Donde Plowman, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean of the College of Business Administration, and Shawn Eichorst, director of athletics.