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UT Sport Management Faculty Host Elite Korean Athletes


Sport management faculty and the English Language Institute are hosting 12 retired elite athletes from Korea this semester.

The former athletes are sponsored by the Korean Foundation for the Next Generation of Sports Talent (NEST), whose mission is to prepare retired Korean national team members for life after sport.

Assistant Professor Win Koo, who is from Korea, is the primary host for the students. Fritz Polite, Jim Bemiller, Rob Hardin and Joy DeSensi, all colleagues in the Department of Exercise, Sport and Leisure Studies, are assisting.

"This will be a great opportunity for both the NEST and the UT students to learn and share global sport culture in terms of elite sports, collegiate sports and the sport governing system," Koo said. "Hopefully, this partnership will enable our sport management program to become a leader in international exchange programs."

The students are in various stages of education — nine have earned bachelor’s degrees and are pursuing graduate studies in Korea while three are taking a break from their undergraduate work to come to UT.

The group includes World Championship and Asian Games medalists. They represent six different sports with four from volleyball and taekwondo and one each from judo, speed skating, archery and wrestling.

Tennessee was chosen to host the athletes because of an established relationship with NEST. Plans for a formal partnership are ongoing.

The students are taking classes at the English Language Institute and attending a one-hour seminar each week with faculty in the Department of Exercise, Sport and Leisure Studies. They have several trips planned including a weekend stay in the Smoky Mountains, and they will go to football and basketball games on campus.

The English Language Institute, which began in 1978, is a part of UT’s Division of University Outreach and Continuing Education. ELI offers programs to students and professionals to help improve their English and teach them about American life. Many students are sent to the U.S. by their employers to learn to speak English more proficiently. Other students are trying to improve their English before enrolling at UT or another American university.