“I’ve been a Chicago sports fan since I was a child, and I try to never miss a game,” says Frank Recchia, certified public accountant, vice president with McGraw-Hill, and instructor in the Master of Arts in Sports Administration program. “But I also really enjoy understanding how businesses work and making them successful.”
Recchia has been doing that for more than 25 years, and often his two passions have overlapped. Recchia worked as an auditor with Coopers & Lybrand (now PriceWaterhouseCoopers) and then for the Chicago Tribune Company during the many years when it owned the Chicago Cubs. He then went to McGraw-Hill, a global college educational publisher, to oversee financial operations. He and his co-instructor, Bill Waters, Senior Director of Finance for the Chicago White Sox, help students understand the unique, real-world challenges of sports business and finance.
“Students not only learn basic economic theory and budgeting and accounting concepts, but also how to read and analyze financial statements and understand why revenue and expenses in sports are different from corporations with shareholders — there is ticket pricing, player compensation, stadium leases, agents, partnerships and bond issues,” he explains. “At the end of the day an organization not only needs a solid balance sheet, but also good strategies to stay profitable. We discuss that with a sports angle whenever possible.”
Many students enter the program with minimal finance or accounting knowledge. But Recchia and Waters use understandable terms and real-life examples, as well as guest speakers and group presentations on sports topics.
“We ask students to analyze an organization’s financial condition or help them build a better brand, and they get really engaged,” he says. “They become very comfortable asking the tough financial questions and putting it all together. They’ll tell us, “I can’t believe how much I learned!”