A communications degree from University of the Ozarks seven years ago has taken Dr. Jordan Bass on an atypical, yet fulfilling, journey.
In just seven years, Dr. Jordan Bass has gone from Ozarks graduate to an assistant professor of sport management at a large institution in Kansas.
Bass, who graduated with Cum Laude honors from Ozarks in December of 2007, is in his second year as an assistant professor in the sport management program at University of Kansas. He is also the director of the university’s Laboratory for the Study of Sport Management.
Bass returned to the U of O campus recently to conduct research on a study of NCAA Division III athletics.
After earning his undergraduate degree, Bass went on to earn a master’s degree from Wichita State University and a Ph.D. from Florida State University, both in sport management. Despite the fact that he did not pursue a traditional communications career, Bass was quick to credit Ozarks for his success in academia.
"There’s no doubt that this University laid a great foundation for me academically," said Bass, who played tennis as a student at Ozarks. "The well-rounded academic programs made it possible to go into a completely different field after graduating and be successful. I sometimes am amazed about how things have worked out for me in academics. I look back at my time at Ozarks and I realize that this is what put me on the path to where I am now."
Bass still remembers a class he took under Professor of Religion Dr. David Daily that sparked his intellectual flame.
"I remember Dr. Daily really having us question and examine our views of the world," Bass said. "It was one of the first times that I remember really starting to form independent opinions and viewpoints and to question the way I looked at things. Other classes I had, like with Coach [Jerry] Waggoner and [athletic trainer] Chad Floyd, were also very influential. It was classes like those that ultimately pushed me to delve deeper into academics."
Bass said he decided to pursue a sport management career after graduating from Ozarks.
"I had initially thought about going into coaching but I met someone at a tennis camp that I was helping run who was pursuing a sport management degree and that sounded like a perfect fit for me," he said. "I love the combination of sports and management and I’ve discovered that I love the teaching and research aspects of it as well. I especially enjoy when students come into my classroom and have pre-conceived notions about sports and to then to have them begin really examining and questioning those pre-conceptions. In some ways I’m the bad guy who is helping them look at sports from a different perspective, and it’s not always a rosy perspective."
Bass’ current research agenda focuses on organizational behavior of athletic programs, the place of athletics in a higher education setting, and social issues in intercollegiate athletics. He was on the Ozarks campus as part of a research project he is working on through the Laboratory for the Study of Sport Management. Ozarks is one of several D-III athletic programs that he is doing research on through a KU grant.
"I am examining the role of Division III athletics at colleges and the overall student-athlete experience at these small colleges," Bass said. "Over the years I’ve been asked a lot about what it was like to be a D-III athlete and it made me think about that. That was the motivation behind this project. There has been a lot of research done on Division I athletics, but no one has really looked at the specific experience for D-III athletes. And, no one has really looked at the place and importance that D-III athletics plays on a small campus."
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