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Athletics teams with colleges of Education, Law to provide unique internships for grad students

October 12, 2011

Northern Illinois Huskies logoIntercollegiate Athletics is continuing its partnership with two NIU graduate programs to provide unique educational internship opportunities for graduate students.

Students from NIU’s Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education (CAHE) who are pursuing their master’s of science degrees and students from the College of Law can spend an academic semester or year within the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

With the goal of gaining practical out-of-classroom experiences and furthering educational studies, both opportunities provide NIU students internship or externship placements within Intercollegiate Athletics for class credit.

The primary purpose of the CAHE internship is to provide students with first-hand experience in administration within intercollegiate athletics. Graduate interns assist the athletic management team in performing administrative responsibilities, working in several areas of Huskie Athletics, such as Business Operations, Sport Administration and Student-Athlete Academic Support Services.

Christian Spears, senior associate athletics director, said he is excited about the prospect of working with CAHE students and the opportunities it provides.

“It is our hope that by collaborating with CAHE on the internship program, we are supporting the academic mission on campus as well as fostering opportunities for future athletic administrators,” Spears said.

Carol Logan Patitu

Carol Logan Patitu

“It is a great opportunity for our department to partner with Intercollegiate Athletics in providing internship opportunities for our graduate students. Interns gain real, professional work experience in eight areas of Athletics,” said Carol Logan Patitu, a professor in the department within the College of Education.

“Many students are not aware of the endless opportunities in Athletics until they are exposed to this field. Not only do the students gain knowledge of the field, they develop skills appropriate to work in a fast paced environment,” Patitu added.

“We have students every year who want to do internships with the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. It is our hope; these opportunities will help them to obtain a rewarding job upon graduating.”

Huskie Athletics also provides an externship opportunity each academic year to selected second- or third-year law students who meet the requirements established by the College of Law.

The law students spend time working with and interpreting NCAA bylaws on behalf of Intercollegiate Athletics, as well as working side by side with athletic administrators to ensure NCAA compliance regulations are monitored.

“Over the last few years within most NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletic compliance offices, a legal education is a preferred or required qualification,” Spears said.

“By working in partnership with the law school, we are ensuring our law students have valuable work experience while matriculating toward their juris doctor. This in turn will provide our own NIU students with the opportunity to be competitive for employment immediately after graduation. Moreover, there is not a substantial difference between an NCAA bylaw and a legal statute. A legal statute is an act of the legislature declaring, commanding or prohibiting something; an NCAA bylaw is the exact same thing only within the context of intercollegiate athletics.”

David Taylor

David Taylor

David Taylor, professor and director of skills training in the NIU College of Law, also emphasized the benefits that the externship program provided.

“By creating an opportunity where our law students are able to benefit educationally as well as develop important practical legal skills outside the classroom,” Taylor said, “the College of Law is able to help position our students for future career success.”

Current third-year law student and athletic compliance extern Erika Snyder said participating in the program with NIU Athletics has been challenging and exciting.

“Because I would like to pursue a career in Intercollegiate Athletics after graduation, this program was a natural fit. I have enjoyed learning the basic legal framework of the Athletic Department and all the things it takes to keep the department running ethically and with integrity,” Snyder said.

Graduate students interested in participating in the intercollegiate athletic internship or externship program should contact their college internship/externship coordinators. Both the externship and the internship are for academic credit only; no financial compensation is provided.