UT MBA Students Among Team Working for Super Bowl XLV

MBA at Super BowlTEAM UT, a group of eight graduate and undergraduate students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, headed to Arlington, Texas, earlier this month to work behind the scenes at Super Bowl XLV, one of the largest one-day mega-sporting events in the world. The game, on February 6, featured NFC Champion Green Bay Packers and AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. TEAM UT worked directly with the North Texas-Host Super Bowl XLV Committee on operations and facility event management. The group helped manage events hosted by NFL commissioners, team general managers and team owners, and worked at essential game-day activities throughout the stadium, such as the corporate hospitality program.

This was the fifth trip of its kind. TEAM UT was a part of Super Bowls XLI (Miami), XLII (Arizona), XLIII (Tampa) and XLIV (Miami). The program is the brainchild of Dr. Fritz G. Polite, clinical professor of sport management and founding director of the Institute for Leadership, Ethics and Diversity (I-LEAD). He has more than 30 years of experience in sports, management, coaching, teaching and business.

"Our students get to experience the sports management side of the event, as well as the business and leadership components that are critical to its success," Polite said. "Sports-related companies involve significant business enterprises, and success in these enterprises requires the application of business fundamentals, analytical techniques and management skills. I don't know of any other institution that offers a comparable experience to its students."

Amy Cathey, director of UT's full-time MBA program added, "This is an invaluable, once in a lifetime opportunity for our students. The combination of hands-on experience and classroom knowledge is a crucial tool to prepare students for their careers after graduate school."

The students were selected through a rigorous interview and application process.  Each student submitted an essay describing his or her five-, 10-, and 15-year goals, and how being a part of TEAM UT would assist him or her in accomplishing those goals. Students also submitted a professional portfolio including business cards and resumes.

This year's TEAM UT members are:

  • Chris Borns, of Greenbrier, is a co-director for TEAM UT 2011.  He is a sophomore Chancellor's Honors student in sport management with a triple minor in business administration, political science, and American studies. Borns is also an I-LEAD student fellow.

  • Patrick McFarland, of Goodlettsville, is a co-director for TEAM UT 2011.  He is a second-year dual MBA-MS, sport management student. He earned his bachelor's degree in sport management from UT in 2008 and has interned with the Tennessee Titans.

  • Jeremy Batson, of Hendersonville, is a second-year dual MBA-MS, sport management student. He earned his bachelor's degree in sport management from UT. Batson is interning within marketing for Global Image Sports, a national sports management company.

  • Jonathan Leach, of Smyrna, is a sophomore in journalism and electronic media with a concentration in broadcasting and a minor in political science. Leach is working for The Volunteer Channel.

  • Alex Loeb, of Brentwood, is a first-year dual MBA-MS, sport management student. Loeb earned his bachelor's degree in marketing at UT and has interned with The Knoxville News Sentinel and UT Athletic Department.

  • Ben Messerli, of Marion, Iowa, is a first-year master's degree candidate in sport management. Messerli has interned at both the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and the University of Iowa football office.

  • Genna Pinto, of South Plainfield, N.J., is a senior in psychology and journalism and electronic media with a concentration in news and sports journalism and broadcasting. Pinto a student assistant/intern with Lady Vol Media Relations and an intern with WVLT.

  • Dianna Rafferty, of Ft. Thomas, Ky., is a senior in sport management with a minor in business administration. Rafferty is working for the UT Athletic Department development office.

Super Bowl XLV had a strong UT connection. Former Tennessee Volunteers participating in the event include Packers players Chad Clifton, Justin Harrell, Reggie McKenzie, and Scott Wells as well as Steelers players Ramon Foster and Chris Scott.

For any other information regarding TEAM UT, please contact student co-director Chris Borns by phone at (615) 477-6566 or by e-mail at

Follow TEAM UT on Facebook for information on upcoming fundraisers and special events.

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