For each of the last 10 years, the University of Tennessee at Martin has been represented in the Super Bowl, and it can be said with near-certainty that UT Martin will be represented again in this season’s Super Bowl on Feb. 11, 2024 – but you won’t find those students’ names in the games’ box scores.
Dr. Dexter Davis, a professor of sport business in the Department of Management, Marketing and Information Systems in the UTM College of Business and Global Affairs, said the UTM sport management program is based on experiential education. His seniors ran the Jackson-Madison County African-American Chamber of Commerce Follow Me Into Golf Tournament on Sept. 12.
“We get out of the classroom and actually do something,” Davis said. “It involves a little bit of everything. There’s some marketing involved, mostly event operation – that kind of stuff.
“Of course, we do the Super Bowl every year. We take kids and actually get involved in helping with Super Bowl game-day operations and pregame stuff. Last year, we actually ended up working a couple of postgame parties.”
Davis said his program has gotten the attention of other universities. Last summer, he talked with other colleges and universities about how he does the program.
For the first time, Davis brought four students to the Little League Baseball Classic in Williamsport, Pennsylvania – a Major League Baseball game played Aug. 20 at the site of the Little League World Series.
“It’s a game that’s really designed for the Little Leaguers,” Davis said. “The only people that are in the stands are Little League teams, their coaching staffs and the parents of Little Leaguers, with a few Major League families thrown in.
“They bring in college kids to help staff the events, and basically, the college kids are ushers or they are liaisons for different teams, which is what our students did. There was actually a team from Nolensville, Tennessee, at the World Series, so one of our students was their liaison.”
Part of those duties included handing out food vouchers to the Little League players and coordinating the team for the Little League parade at the start of the game, getting them to their spot before the parade begins and taking them from the field to the stands after the parade.
Davis said the work experience is invaluable to put on graduating students’ resumes as they seek their first full-time job.
“I’ve got all kinds of anecdotal evidence that it’s great for their resume, it’s great for their personal opportunities,” he said. “I have a student from Niagara (University, where Davis once worked) who got hired by the Tampa Bay Lightning, and she is convinced that the only reason they interviewed her was because she had Super Bowl experience on her resume.”
Davis said the students chosen for Super Bowl work detail apply early in the fall semester.
“Students have to submit a resume and a cover letter, just as if they were applying for a job,” he said. “I will go through those resumes, and I have a rubric that I use, and that would rank-order them.
“The new kids who come in for this, I sit them down and have a conversation about what their expectations are and what they hope to accomplish, how they see this impacting their career going forward.”
The application process for the upcoming Super Bowl has already been completed.
Davis said he has had students who seemed more excited about seeing the sports celebrities than they were about doing the job at hand.
“They are there because they think they’re going to see or meet somebody famous,” he said. “That’s going to happen, but they are just another person who is doing their job, and you have to do your job. You can’t get overwhelmed.
“I tell the students, ‘You’re putting the biggest brand in the world on your resume,’ because they are actually working for the NFL for a couple of weeks.”
Last year, a Master of Business Administration concentration was started at UT Martin in sport business.
For more information about the careers available through the UTM sport business management program, contact Davis at 731-881-7369 or search “sport business management” at www.utm.edu.
Photo: UT Martin students who worked at the Little League Baseball Classic on Aug. 20 at Williamsport, Pa., were (from left) Skylar Johnson of Simpson, Illinois; Ally Bruner of Atoka; Brooks Johnston of Medina; and Justin Carroll of Fairview.