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New Faculty Feature: Chuck Provencio

Chuck Provencio
Chuck Provencio, a new assistant professor to the sport and recreation management program, teaching a course this past fall. 

Last semester, South Dakota State University’s School of Health and Consumer Sciences—housed in the College of Education and Human Sciences—welcomed a new assistant professor to the sport and recreation management program. 

While Chuck Provencio may be a new face for many, it’s actually Provencio’s second go-round on SDSU’s campus. 
“It’s been really good,” Provencio said, reflecting on his first eight weeks back on campus. “South Dakota State has a lot of perks, especially being a true college town out here in the Midwest.”
Previously, Provencio spent two years (2014-2016) as SDSU’s graduate assistant tennis coach. During that time, he completed his master’s degree in recreation and sport studies and began focusing on academia after spending a number of years in coaching. 
Originally from Bakersfield, California, Provencio grew up around tennis, first as a player then later as a coach. He served as director of tennis for the Bakersfield Racquet Club and received his undergraduate degree in physical education and kinesiology from California State University Bakersfield.
“Coaching, for me, was an option to stay connected to sport in a way that was meaningful for me,” Provencio said. “I took a job as a tennis pro (teaching professional), and I was having so much fun. I was getting into the administrative side of things, kind of transitioning from ‘I love this sport’ to ‘I love facilitating this sport.’”
Provencio started pursuing college coaching, first at a community college and then at the Division I level. His two years at SDSU, while enjoyable, made him realize that he wanted to make a slight pivot in his career. 
“At the end of the day, I decided I didn’t want to be a college coach because the commitments—in terms of travel and time—were massive,” Provencio said. 
He then moved onto the University of New Mexico to pursue a doctorate in health, exercise and sport sciences.
“Their sport management program is one of the best in the country, so it was a really great opportunity for me to get in,” Provencio explained. 
After four years in Albuquerque—where he was also a graduate teaching assistant in the physical education department and a tennis pro for the Lobo Tennis Club—Provencio returned to Brookings after an assistant professor position opened up in the sport and recreation management program. 

“It’s unique,” Provencio said, referring to the program. “We are the only sport management program, aside from the University of Minnesota, in the region. The next closest program is the University of Northern Colorado. We’re really lucky to have this program and do some interesting research, programming, and all that fun stuff.”
“We are happy to welcome Dr. Provencio to our team,” said Bryan Romsa, director of the sport and recreation management program. “It is great to have him back on campus, and we are excited about the experience and expertise he is bringing to the program.”
Currently, Provencio is teaching two graduate-level courses: Foundations of Sport and Recreation Management and Sports Finance. His Foundations of Sport and Recreation Management course covers everything from the principles of management and marketing to law and agency. 
“Since it is multi-disciplinary, it is tricky to capture everything,” Provencio said. “We’re trying to give our students a ‘buffet’ of sport options.”
His other course focuses on some basic financial concepts—like stocks and revenue generation—while also bringing in the more sport-specific business elements like budgetary responsibilities and financial accountability. 
“It’s an interesting space where we’re connecting a lot of these financial concepts—like personal finance—to even more business-specific practices of balancing revenues and expenditures and those kinds of things,” Provencio said. “It gives our students the chance to engage with financial decision making and viewing money as a tool, rather than just trying to make as much as you can.”
Outside of his teaching responsibilities, Provencio is doing some industry-related research in organizational behavior. Currently, he is looking at a process called acculturation. For his specific area of research, this process is defined simply as how people choose their jobs.
“I’m looking at coaches in particular,” Provencio said. “Coaching is this open industry: if you want to coach soccer, get a soccer ball, a couple of nets and an open space, and then you're ready to open up shop. There’s also this massive pathway all the way up to professional coaching or college coaching where things become much more formal, and you have to have certain skills locked in—not just the X's and O's on the field, but the back-end management stuff as well.”
As Provencio explains, coaches move from the very basic elements of sport (the “X’s and O’s”) to more business management principals, like recruiting, PR and donor relations as new pathways open up. 
“To move from the low-level stuff—where the barriers to entry are almost nothing—to the high-level stuff is really challenging,” Provencio said. 
A tennis player at heart, Provencio still plays when he can, often driving to Sioux Falls to find a game.
“I’m not playing as much as I would like, but there is hope that I’ll find some people to play with on a more regular basis,” Provencio added.