Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina announced today it is adding a Bicycling Studies minor to its curriculum this year, making it the only school in the US to offer a degree in the sport.
College president, Dr. Barry M. Buxton, is himself a cycling enthusiast who rides with members of the multiple national championship-winning collegiate racing team. He approved the program, which will help graduates enter professional cycling as a career, either on or off the bike.
"My goal is to ultimately have 150 cyclists enrolled at Lees-McRae," said Buxton. "We plan to continue to win national championships, but we also want to prepare our graduates to assume positions of leadership in the business world of bicycling."
"We want to give our talented cyclists another avenue in which to explore the ever-growing and dynamic world of cycling. Our students are talented riders and mechanics, and we want to provide them with opportunities outside of team racing," said Buxton.
Courses that make up the program include History and Principles of Bicycling, Business and Economics of Sports, Nutrition and Athletic Performance and Creativity and Innovation. Students will also complete a field study in cycling and an internship in cycling before graduation.
This program will position graduates to obtain positions in fields such as team management, bicycle design, coaching, education, urban design, training, retail, planning, event promotion, marketing and more.
The Lees-McRae College cycling team won its first national title in 2003, and in the past seven years it has won ten team national championships and many more individual titles.
"It is exciting to see the dream that began with Coach Sean McAndrew now develop into this amazing program, "said Doug Owen, former head coach of the cycling team and member of Lees-McRae's Cycling Advisory Board.. "In 2006 when we took the program to the Division I level, it was only in my wildest dreams that one day the school would embrace cycling in this manner. It is so innovative and is what our country needs to move into the next decade."