For the last 10 years, the University of Tennessee at Martin has been represented at the Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League, and that tradition will continue with the game on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.
There will be 14 sports business students working in several areas at Super Bowl LVIII next week, including hospitality, getting players where they need to be for autographs and other duties found in the professional sports management field.
Those students – including hometowns (Tennessee unless otherwise noted) and majors – are: Ally Bruner, Atoka, MBA/sport business; Tierra Clements, Memphis, accounting and finance; Omaria Crutchfield, Memphis, finance; Skyler Davis, Muncie, Ind., MBA/sport business; Nicholas Edwards, Clarksville, sport business; Dawson Gremmels, Martin, MBA; Kassidy Gresham, Waynesboro, finance; Hannah Haislip, Gates, marketing; Skylar Johnson, Simpson, Ill., marketing; Madison Jones, Dickson, MBA; Jaden Knott, South Fulton, sport business; Dylan Mott, Hendersonville, MBA/sport business; Amber Wright, McKenzie, ag business/marketing; and Ryan Young, Brentwood, sport business
The students were selected by Dr. Dexter Davis, associate professor of sport management, who coordinates the Super Bowl opportunity for UTM students.
“We make it kind of like a job interview, so they get some practice with that,” he said. “They have to provide me with a cover letter and a resume, and they have to do a bit of research about the organization that we’re working with so they can write a meaningful cover letter that addresses what they’re going to be doing at the Super Bowl and their responsibilities.
“We do an interview process where I use a rubric to screen people that includes grade-point average, class experience, prior experience and so on. Those who place among the top scores are selected to go. It’s not a class; it’s just an experiential learning opportunity outside of the classroom for students in the College of Business.”
This is Davis’ 19th year to bring students to the Super Bowl, dating to when he taught at Niagara University and York College.
The students working at the Super Bowl will have a variety of tasks to handle.
“We work a shift at The NFL’s Super Bowl Experience, which is a fanfest,” Davis said. “That’s more of a customer service role. On game day, we work with the NFL’s hospitality arm, On Location Experiences.
“A lot of times, we work with talent movement, moving players and Hall of Famers to do autograph sessions from one spot to another. This year, we’re going to be working with the On Location Elite, which is a high-high-high-end hospitality activity. Some of those people paid in excess of $50,000 for the weekend, so they get extra-special service, and we’re going to provide that extra-special service.”
Davis said that the sports management experience the students get by working the Super Bowl is extensive, learning much of the behind-the-scenes work in athletics. There will be other career opportunities to be had as well.
“On that Wednesday before the Super Bowl (Feb. 7), I have a former student from when I taught at Niagara University – he was actually one of my advisees – who is the director of premium sales for the Golden Knights,” Davis said, referencing the National Hockey League team in Las Vegas.
“We’re doing a meet-and-greet with some of the executives of the Knights at their practice facility. Then, Monday night, we’re going to a Golden Knights hockey game (against the Minnesota Wild) before we come home.”
Davis said there will be more than 800 students coming to work at the Super Bowl this year, representing about 45 colleges and universities.
“When I started doing this, there were four institutions that were doing this,” he said. “One of the things that I’m personally involved in is I am on the planning committee that has put together a networking event for the students who are working at the Super Bowl.
“We have a series of panels. We have reverse-networking, where there are about 40 sport industry professionals that are going to be hanging out at different tables and have the students come up and talk with them. It’s not a career fair, so we’ve asked them not to bring resumes, but it’s an opportunity to network and meet people and shake hands.”
Devon Lewis-Buchanan, the diversity, equity and inclusion director for the Las Vegas Raiders NFL team, will be a keynote speaker for the college students during Super Bowl Week.
The Super Bowl has presented opportunities to UT Martin students for more than a decade, but it is not the chance to bring home championship rings. It is an opportunity to gain experience in sports marketing and develop a career in the field to last for many, many seasons.
Photo: Dr. Dexter Davis (center) and the 14 UT Martin students who will work at this year’s Super Bowl are featured in a special graphic.