Dr. Robert Mathner: Role-modeling Success Strategies in Sport Management

Lahnee Pavlovich
Head of Research and Writing

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Fostering meaningful relationships, extensive internships and preparing for post-graduation is key to success.
We read a lot about graduates who have completed expensive degrees but can’t find work. So it is extremely rewarding to be able to share a story that counters this stigma.

The value of fostering meaningful relationships is a key concept Dr. Robert Mathner, an Associate Professor at Troy University, Alabama, instils in his Hospitality, Sport & Tourism Management (HSTM) students. He knows that supporting their inter-personal skill development will differentiate them in the job market and goes a long way to ensuring they are well prepared for the next chapter in their lives and careers.

It is also something he has role modelled throughout his own life and career.

Robert Mathner

“I had visions of becoming a NCAA Division I Athletics Director but through circumstances beyond my control, I was afforded an opportunity to become a faculty member teaching Sport Management at Troy University and I jumped at it,” Dr. Mathner said. “I really just wanted to make a difference and to be a small part of helping other students achieve their goals and dreams.”

“I was very fortunate to have people (wife included) who believed in me and my abilities when I did not have the confidence myself or when self-doubt crept in. So, in that regard, what helped me to succeed both as a NCAA Division I athletics administrator and now as faculty member is that I had a mentor(s) that provided me with sound advice throughout my career. I also had a plan of where I wanted to go and that really helped me succeed in both college athletics and as a faculty member.”

“Something I have discovered throughout my life and my career is that people really do not care how much you know until they know how much you care,” he said.

“Sometimes that means you have to take on the role as a parent would, but once I got “IT”, my effectiveness increased tremendously, as has my satisfaction in what I do.”

Dr. Mathner strives to provide the same support and mentorship for his HSTM students.

As we know from an overwhelming amount of research, the challenge continues to be balancing academics with real-world demands, and particularly for sport management being an applied field. Educators are faced with questions like what do Sport Management students need to be successful post-graduation? How do you develop their ability to work well both independently and in a team? And what can they and others do to assist and motivate students to reach, or hopefully, exceed their potential?

According to Dr. Mathner, you need to not only provide the students with the tools to be successful, but motivate and encourage them when uncertainty is staring them in the face.

“My role is to not allow our students to strive for mediocrity but rather to strive to find their gifts and then use those gifts to excel. That’s why the Sports ManagerDISC assessment is so valuable to our students,” he said.

Robert Mathner

“Our Hospitality, Sport & Tourism Management curriculum is very heavy on problem solving, establishing relationships and getting industry wide practical experience while in the program. The entire faculty are very committed to providing a curriculum that allows them to be in the best possible position to succeed upon graduation. We are sensitive to what prospective employers are looking for in students,”

“Our senior capstone course really prepares our students for the next chapter in their lives and careers in that we spend an abundance of time coaching them on how to write resumes and cover letters, and how to phone and face interview.”

Students are also encouraged to engage in industry related practical experience prior to graduating.

“Students should have at a minimum three industry wide practical experiences before they apply for their first position after graduating. That sets them apart from other graduates looking for similar positions,” Dr. Mathner said.

“That often means working for free and volunteering their time, but that is the nature of the game. This also allows students to find out what they like, do not like and how their skill set(s) apply to the various industry niches.”

“I love to see a student work very hard at the undergraduate level, not only in the classroom, but as a volunteer etc., getting the various industry related experiences, and seeing that lead to a full-time position. Dozens of our students have been granted interviews and subsequently offered HSTM related professional positions and internships due to outstanding resumes, cover letters and job interviews.”

Being a high ‘C’ DISC Style himself, Dr. Mathner sets high standards for himself, his students and his course and enjoys seeing his students benefit from the Athlete Assessments Sports ManagerDISC profile.

Robert Mathner

“We incorporate the Sports ManagerDISC assessment (for our Sport Management students) and a non-sporting version* of the DISC assessment (for our Hospitality & Tourism Management students) in our ‘Leadership Principles in HSTM’ class. It is taken early in the students’ curriculum and allows them to really get a sense for their behaviors (adapted and natural),” Dr. Mathner said.

“Our curriculum is laden with group projects and often, students do not choose who is in their group. As is often the case, the different styles within the group can be counterproductive if the students do not know how to interact with others who exhibit different styles. That is why DISC is so beneficial! Students become aware of themselves and others and discover techniques to engage so that the team objectives can be met,” he said.

“The other benefit from the Sports ManagerDISC is that from an interview process, our students can use the feedback from the assessment to better prepare for interview questions/interviews,”

“Working with Athlete Assessments has been a great partnership and I know our students benefit from the service and follow-up. The team has been outstanding.”

*Team8 DISC Profile assessments are the non-sporting version of the DISC Profiles. Team8 and Athlete Assessments are owned by the same company and our clients have access to both.

About Dr. Robert MathnerRobert Mathner

Dr. Robert Mathner received a Ph.D. in Physical Education with a specialization in Sport Administration from the Florida State University and a Master of Exercise and Sport Sciences from the University of Florida. He teaches in the areas of sport governance and policy, sport event management, sport administration, sport ethics, and sport organizational behavior and leadership. His prior work experience includes working in the Athletics Departments at UCF, Syracuse, University of Montana, Florida State University, and also with the Atlanta Braves. Dr. Mathner said he was most proud that he was fortunate to marry the right person and have three incredible children who continue to amaze him.

If you’ve got here and find yourself wanting to read more about Dr. Mathner, you can do just that. We have the extended Q&A here.

Where to from here?

Dr. Mathner and his colleagues at Troy University use Athlete Assessments’ Academic Program as part of their curriculum in their ‘Principles of Leadership in HSTM’ class. It is extremely popular with both students and staff because it complements hospitality, sport and tourism management topics and professional development in the class room with a very strong practical application.

Whether you teach Sport Management, Sport Coaching, Sport and Health Sciences or sport psychology, provide your students with the skills which differentiate them when they enter the competitive sports industry. The success of your students reflects the success of your University Academic Program and we want to help you achieve success on all fronts.

Find out everything you need to know. We’ll send you a full information pack and organize your trial at no cost to you. We also will review your syllabus and make recommendations on the best way to incorporate the program within your class.

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Athlete Assessments’ DISC Profiles are specifically tailored to sport.

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Each student completes a DISC Profile assessment of most relevance to the class or stream.

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Guest lecture (via video conference) by one of our experienced consultants to debrief the students’ DISC Reports. 

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Videos match to the Learning Guide sections to explain content and facilitate key activities.

Your Students will find them engaging and educational.

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