Taylor Sanderson, a student in the third cohort of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business Administration master of arts in intercollegiate athletics administration (MAIAA), is no stranger to multi-tasking. In high school, he played football, baseball, basketball and ran track. He has spent the last five years perfecting his athletic ability in track and field at Iowa State University, where he mastered several events to become one of the nation’s best in the 10-event grind known as the decathlon.
Arguably the most physically demanding event an athlete can participate in, the decathlon pushes every boundary in horizontal and vertical jumps, sprints, hurdles, distance races and throwing events. To become excellent in each event is an undertaking Sanderson took on as he ran track for Iowa State beginning in 2011, working his way to becoming a two-time All-American.
“After my junior year, I focused on working hard and doing things the right way all the time,” Sanderson said. “My coach really inspired me to lead by example and with the success I was having on the track, I knew I could be someone my teammates looked up to and an example of someone who makes the effort it takes to become great.”
Through five years with the Cyclones, Sanderson, a native of Bondurant, Iowa, boasts impressive victories on and off the track. Highlighting his experiences are honors such as Academic All-Big 12 four years in a row, a Big 12 championship in the decathlon and co-president of Iowa State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He was also named the recipient of Iowa State’s Senior Male Athlete All-Around Award in 2016, given to one outstanding senior male athlete every year at ISU.
That drive led Sanderson to prepare for a career in collegiate athletics administration. Because the MAIAA program was uniquely designed to allow students to earn a competitive Big Ten business degree while simultaneously gaining experience in the Nebraska Department of Athletics, he knew it was the right fit.
“When I learned about the MAIAA program, I knew this was where I wanted to be,” said Sanderson. “This program is exactly what I was hoping for in graduate school, and everything fell into place.”
The unique graduate degree is the brainchild of Dr. Donde Plowman, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean of the College of Business Administration and Shawn Eichorst, director of athletics. Up to 12 students are admitted annually to the exclusive MAIAA programs, which serves as the only hybrid business and sport-specific programs in the country offering a competitive graduate assistantship to all admitted students.
“This program is a gateway to my future. I know if I work hard over the next two years, take advantage of the generous opportunities given to me at Nebraska, learn and meet people along the way, I will be able to have a successful career following graduation,” Sanderson said.
In two years, Sanderson will be competing for another great title – his first job in intercollegiate athletics administration.