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Arkansas State University

Ruthanne Duffy Bumps Up Career After Earning M.S. in Sport Administration Online

ASTATE MS Sport Admin Grad Ruthanne Duffy

After experiencing life as a college volleyball coach, Ruthanne Duffy stepped up to the plate as general manager of a collegiate summer wooden bat baseball team.

“Seeing the operations side of athletics piqued my interest,” she said. “I had been coaching volleyball for so long, which was a great opportunity, but I got to see the side where I am selling sponsorships and season tickets, ordering everything for game day and managing game day on my own.

“That was neat. It also impacted my decision to go back to school for a master’s degree. I wanted to see what else I could do and push my limitations.”

Duffy graduated from the online Master of Science (M.S.) in Sport Administration program at Arkansas State University (A-State) in October 2021.

“Being in higher education seemed like a logical next step for me,” she said. “I kept putting it off, but I realized there’s more to coaching and intercollegiate athletics, and maybe I could contribute in a different way.”

The move paid off. After 10 years as a volleyball coach at Ferrum College in Ferrum, Virginia, Duffy landed a position as assistant athletic director of operations and senior women’s administrator at Patrick & Henry Community College. She and her husband, Matt, have two children — Elijah (6) and Delaney (2).

“The master’s degree most definitely helped me land this opportunity,” she said. “It gave me the confidence to push myself to see what I am capable of professionally.

Ruthanne recently added a role as the school’s Deputy Title IX Coordinator, she will be ensuring compliance by assisting with investigations and complaints.

After hearing about A-State’s online M.S. in Sport Administration program from some of her former undergraduate classmates, Erik Lemley and Kristen Salyer, who were already enrolled, Duffy was on board.

“They said it was very convenient and affordable,” she said. “Being able to complete the program online made it a practical decision for me.

“I was a full-time volleyball coach. I had one kid and was pregnant with another. I was also running a baseball team. For me, to balance that was tough at times, but I was able to manage it successfully.”

Duffy took a break from the program when she had her daughter in 2020, but she returned seamlessly.

Dr. David LaVetter, the program coordinator, was amazing to work with,” she said. “I was able to get back into the swing of things. He was willing to work with me to make sure I got back on track.”

Serving Notice

Duffy was born in the Philippines as part of an Air Force family, but she moved to New Castle, Virginia at a young age. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and sports management from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise in 2010.

“I played volleyball, basketball and softball in high school,” she said. “I fell in love with volleyball, which is what I went to play at UVa-Wise. We were successful there, especially in 2007. We won the Region XII Championship.”

“I always thought I was going to be a P.E. teacher. Once I did my internship with my volleyball coach for my sports management degree, it gave me a glimpse into intercollegiate athletics. That’s when I decided I wanted to coach at a higher level.”

She became an assistant coach at Ferrum in 2012. Three years later, Duffy became head coach of the Panthers. She became assistant manager of the Martinsville Mustangs in 2018 and general manager for the 2019-2020 seasons.

“I was very fortunate with my timing,” she said. “My husband played baseball at UVa-Wise and also coached for the Mustangs. We love all sports. I appreciate the way athletics can shape a person.”

Duffy believes that the online M.S. in Sport Administration curriculum prepared her well to take on the challenges of her new role.

“I liked Sport Law and Sport Marketing, but the entire curriculum is incredibly beneficial,” she said. “I pulled a lot from it. I also enjoyed the Current Readings and Ethical Issues in Sport to learn about operating in intercollegiate athletics.”


Especially since she has the type of position she was aiming for with her return to college, Duffy is grateful for the support of her inner circle. She is the first person in her immediate family to earn a master’s degree.

“They were excited for the opportunities it’s going to open for me,” she said. “With this degree, I feel capable to grow in athletics and further my career.”

“It gave me the confidence to apply for more positions because my degree prepared me for whatever I was going to throw my name in for. They know my work ethic. They know my aspirations and that it was the next step.”

Once Duffy adds some experience as an assistant athletic director of operations and senior women’s administrator, she hopes to eventually become an athletic director.

“I work with an athletic director who has been here for 10 years. I have already been able to contribute and collaborate with him from what I learned at A-State.”

Duffy said that the key to success as an online student is open communication with professors and classmates.

“Having other people to sound off with on the discussion boards was helpful,” she said. “We had a couple of group chats on the side. It’s manageable if you set your mind to it. It teaches you a lot, but the program and faculty make sure you are able to juggle the curriculum.”

Now that Duffy is off and running in her career as a full-time collegiate administrator, she knows that enrolling at A-State online was a good decision.

“Even though I waited 10 years to get started, it’s a blessing,” she said. “I am fortunate to have this degree and excited to see where it continues to take me.”

Learn more about A-State’s online M.S. in Sport Administration program.

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