Two students in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Master of Arts in Business with a Specialization in Intercollegiate Athletics Administration (MAIAA) program at the College of Business Administration made history by sweeping this year’s College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) postgraduate scholarships. James Hajek from Omaha, Nebraska, and Lorie Garnett from Manteca, California, are both part of the two-year cohort program which blends the academic foundation of the UNL MBA program with experience in the operation of Husker Athletics.
“We are thrilled for James and Lorie and look forward to all they will accomplish in the MAIAA program. They demonstrate the caliber of student we admit into our program,” said Brandon Urry, program coordinator for MAIAA. “Each year we receive numerous applications from a very talented and qualified applicant pool from across the country, so to see James and Lorie win national awards at a very early stage in our program’s development is tremendous.”
Hajek received the $7,500 Wylie Smith Postgraduate Scholarship, given to a graduate in a media relations/sports information office who has expressed an interest in collegiate athletics communications. Garnett received the $7,500 Langston Rogers Postgraduate Scholarship, given annually to a rising minority or female student working in athletic communications/sports information who is interested in pursuing a career in intercollegiate athletic communications.
“It’s a huge honor that goes beyond Lorie and me. We have a great program coordinator in Brandon Urry. We have great support from Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst and Dean Donde Plowman. We have great faculty. It just goes to show the type of program that we are building at Nebraska,” Hajek said. “The brands both Husker Athletics and the College of Business Administration have are so enticing to prospective candidates that the UNL MAIAA program will continue to bring in more and more talented individuals.”
It is the first time two students attending the same institution swept the awards since 1997, when CoSIDA began offering two postgraduate scholarships. In addition, Erica Nett, a UNL MBA student, was the runner-up for the Langston Rogers scholarship.
Hajek and Garnett are the first winners from a Big Ten institution since 2008, and the first from Nebraska since Jeff Griesch ’96 won the awards in 1996 and 1997. Griesch is the director of communications operations for Husker Athletics.
A member of the incoming MAIAA cohort starting this fall, Garnett earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Brigham Young University before also working in the BYU media relations office in 2013-14. She worked as an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University prior to coming to UNL.
“The UNL MAIAA program is the most unique graduate program with an emphasis on athletics in the country,” Garnett said. “While in its infancy, this program is making waves and earning its reputation in higher education, while proving that its execution and leadership are top notch. This honor will only help the MAIAA program continue to make its mark and compete with the best graduate programs in the country.”
Hajek will begin his second year of the program this fall, which includes a year-long, paid graduate assistantship with Husker Athletics. He is expected to serve as the women’s gymnastics and women’s bowling contact during his assistantship. He came to UNL after earning his undergraduate degree in business administration from Weber State University in Utah, where he also played basketball.