Niagara University Prepared Chris Norman for a Role With the UFC

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Photo credit: Niagara University

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Niagara University’s master of science in sport management offers students the chance to improve their career skills in a supportive and attentive environment. Thanks, in part, to this approach to graduate education, many of Niagara’s alumni have gone on to impressive careers within the sports industry.

One of these examples can be found in the class of 2015’s Chris Norman.

Norman, now a strategy manager at the Ultimate Fighting Championship, has been with the company since January of 2015. He began an internship that month and then was hired full-time in June of that year.

“I love it here. It’s a great community-feel in the UFC,” Norman says of his current company. “The culture is great. It’s very open. People will respect your time. I’ve enjoyed my tenure here so far.”

An Ontario native and former baseball player at Erie Community College and Mississippi Valley State University, Norman coached and taught at Erie Community College while taking classes at Niagara in the evening.

Norman’s role consists of studying and analyzing analytics like television ratings for the UFC and helps determine how those should influence the company’s growth strategy.

“If executives are interested in pursuing something, they’ll pull our team in to provide background data and insights to better inform them when making a decision.”

This work has proved immensely satisfying for Norman, as he utilizes his skills with a brand he has historically enjoyed.

“I would consider myself a casual UFC fan prior to being employed here, but the nature of the work was very appealing as well,” Norman states. “I was a research analyst when I first got hired, which is very similar to my current role in that it was consumer insights-based, and data and pulling research, and things like that. And then just being involved with all the little pieces of all other departments within the UFC is very rewarding.”

During his time in Western New York, Norman reached out to professor Michael Gentile, program coordinator of sport and recreation management at Niagara, to learn more about the graduate program. Initially, he was impressed with the personalized nature of the program. This made it seem like a natural fit.

“It was a very small class size, which allowed the faculty to be very attentive to us,” Norman recalls. “Our professors were very encouraging and open to sit-down, one-on-one meetings to go through the assignments. In each course, we did a lot of the projects and they took the effort to tailor the coursework around your interests. I was very pleased to see that that was the case.”

After noting the way that the program enabled him to elevate his career to a new level, Norman recommends those considering a graduate education to apply for the program at Niagara University.

“I definitely encourage anyone considering the program to pursue a master’s degree at Niagara,” Norman emphasizes. “I really enjoyed my time and loved the support from the faculty. I don’t know that you’ll find a program that’s as open to tailoring to your interests.

“It seemed like they were concerned and interested in my interests and they tried to make sure that I was getting the most out of the education as I could. For future students, have a focus on what your future aspirations are — because Niagara will definitely help you find ways to achieve those along the way.”

For more information on Niagara’s Master of Science in Sport Management program, visit the website. Also consider attending Graduate Studies Spring 2019 Open House on Thursday, April 4, 2019.