Maryland native Erik Schwarz says his internship experiences as a West Virginia University sport management student convinced him to take the Division I Athletics path.
“I was a student football equipment manager for five years. During my last year of school, I did an internship with the football administrator. Working with the Mountaineer football team from 1988-1992 was unbelievable experience,” Schwarz explained.
“I've been around football my whole life. My father was a high school coach and I played as a youth all the way through high school,” he added.
As associate athletics director, athletic facilities and sport operations, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, no day is the same. “Every day is different when working in facilities and operations. I work with 17 different athletic programs. Whether it’s getting prepared for or running an event, taking care of facilities or a facilities management project, scheduling, or dealing with a customer wanting to rent our facilities, the experience is constantly changing,” he said.
Schwarz also serves as sport administrator for UNLV men/women swimming and diving programs. No matter the assignment, the 1993 Sport Management graduate says the focus and mission is to provide the best possible experience for student athletes.
“Working at UNLV, Runnin' Rebel basketball is special. I do enjoy working with all our different teams,” he said.
How did Schwarz break into the sports industry? “I was very fortunate that there were already WVU alumni working at UNLV. I didn’t know them at the time but they were instrumental with the WVU connection. It's turned out to be a lifelong friendship. I knew I wanted to work in college athletics and I've done that for the past 26 years in one of the most vibrant cities in the world,” said Schwarz.
Although Schwarz acknowledges the ‘cool factor’ associated with living and working in Las Vegas, he says work travel and visits with other institutions across the country rank high on his perk list. “I like to drop by and see how they do things. Also, it's about the people you meet along the way,” he said.
Schwarz says that his WVU internships taught him that working in athletics is time demanding. “You need to have a sense of urgency and adapt to all different types of situations and personalities,” he added.
What advice does Schwarz have for CPASS students and recent graduates who want to pursue a similar career track? “Somehow, someway you need get your foot in the door, whether it's an internship, volunteering or working for little pay. Once you get there you need to be consistent, display the Mountaineer work ethic and know how to adapt to all things thrown at you,” said Schwarz.
Don't be afraid to take a chance. “I always tell co-workers that ‘WVU is where greatness is learned,’” he said.
While at UNLV, Schwarz received his Master’s degree in Athletic Administration (1997).