Students in the Baylor School of Education Sport Management program had the opportunity to work closely with ESPN College Gameday when the national broadcast aired from McLane Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 16, for the Bears’ matchup with the Oklahoma Sooners. The SOE master’s students worked with ESPN staff to ensure the broadcast and weekend events ran smoothly as hundreds of Baylor students and fans converged on the stadium to participate.
College Gameday, an ESPN football pre-game show, broadcasts live from various colleges and universities all across the nation. The show covers the college football stats and predictions for the upcoming games that day.
This was Baylor’s third time hosting College Gameday, and Sport Management master’s students have assisted previously, but it was a first and a unique opportunity for this year’s students to get to work with the ESPN professionals.
“This benefits our students with hands-on exposure to a top flight production operation and promotes valuable networking opportunities,” said Dr. Jeffrey Petersen, Professor of Sport Management, director of the program, and Interim Chair of the Department of Educational Leadership. “The rapid weekly turn-around and early start time associated with Gameday also provide students with insights on the atypical schedule associated with sport events and sport programming.”
Sport Management student Kyle Combs, graduate assistant for the Sport Management program, first reached out through social media and the ESPN email to Gameday staff three weeks prior to Baylor being named the official host.
“I really just wanted Baylor to be on their radar,” Combs said. He also reached out to Baylor event and facility staff, all with the help of Dr. Petersen.
“After giving me ideas of who to contact, Dr. Petersen let me handle the rest of the logistics and checked in wanting to know any exciting updates,” Combs said.
Upon receiving news of Combs’ Gameday inquiry, former Sport Management student — and now Associate Director of Fan Engagement at Baylor — Derek Westbrook provided him with essential connections to Gameday staff.
Combs worked closely with ESPN, Home Depot, and Octagon event staff, who carry out the Sports Marketing for Home Depot. He additionally was placed in charge of the 16 Sport Management student volunteers who signed up to partake in College Gameday.
Stacy Falconieri, one of the student volunteers from the Sport Management program, worked closely with the Octagon team.
“It was a fun and enlightening experience. I enjoyed interacting with all of the different types of people — fans, VIPs, other workers, and TV personnel,” Falconieri said.
Combs said, “The hours were long and started early, but everyone commented on how efficient and hardworking our crew was, which meant as the day went on the more we could enjoy the show from backstage.”
The Baylor Sport Management program is not only a leading master’s program in Texas, but also across the nation. Graduates from this program serve in leadership roles in the sport industry in professional, intercollegiate, interscholastic, community and both for-profit and non-profit settings.
‑By Katie Coats
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