SALISBURY – There was a den of Blue Bears among the Chiefs and 49ers at Super Bowl 2020.
Eleven Livingstone College sport management students served as hosts at Super Bowl LIV held Sunday in Miami, Fla. Livingstone was only one of two historically black colleges and universities selected to participate in the Super Bowl Experience.
Deonna Young, Semaj Williams, Cory Jones, Antwann Abernathy, Damoni Johnson, Breanah Brown, Alfred Patrick Jr, Marcus Thompson, Precious Wood, Tianna Deberry and Daruis Gwynn were selected to attend based on academics and engagement.
The students left for Miami on Jan. 29 and returned Tuesday from an unforgettable experience.
Livingstone was selected for the program through an extensive application process, said Dr. Charles Crowley, department chair of sport management, hospitality management and culinary arts, who also accompanied the group.
But it’s also about connections, and this wasn’t Crowley’s first rodeo of super bowls. Only in his second semester at Livingstone, Crowley worked the Super Bowl in 2000 and 2004 while working for other entities.
The purpose of the program is to teach the business side of sports and to offer insight on what it’s like to run a major sporting event. Students worked the NFL Experience that featured the football players, NFL Live and served as way finders inside the stadium on game day.
“They got to meet so many people, celebrities and stars,” Crowley said. “Every day, they saw someone famous.”
Students had to complete application packets and background checks, and undergo online customer service training. They each received official Super Bowl credentials along with hats, shirts and bags.
The students helped to raise their own money for the $7,000 trip with support from the college, Crowley said, expressing gratitude to Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. They traveled by plane – many of them for the first time – to Miami and resided in an Airbnb.
“Everything went extremely well. I was very pleased with the students. We had a great time,” Crowley said.
The experience has been a major boost to the sport management program – in addition to Crowley’s hire – which boasts 200 students.
“The students are seeing that if they would do what they are supposed to do, Livingstone will give them all the tools to get where they need to be,” said Chris Davis, assistant professor of sport management and a 2013 Livingstone alumnus.
“We want that paradigm because we want to be the best department, not just on the campus, but in the state,” Crowley said. “We want to make sure we are recognized over other large programs, not just as an HBCU, but as the best students.”
There are sport management graduates from Livingstone currently working in the NFL and who have interviewed with professional teams including the San Antonio Spurs and the Seattle Seahawks, he said.
“What they’re finding out is that I’m determined,” Crowley said. “I’m going to make some things happen. We’ve got to change our mindset and our expectations. We have to think big and make sure were on point.”
Crowley is a graduate of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, where he ran track and field, and professionally after graduating. He earned his doctorate degree from Florida State University.
“I appreciate him choosing Livingstone,” Davis said. “He could pass as a Livingstone graduate because he cares about the students just as much.”
“These are the types of experiential learning experiences that prepare our students for the world,” said Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. “We are intentional this year about reimagining our institution. We are thankful for Dr. Crowley and his forward thinking in getting Livingstone College at the Super Bowl for this distinct opportunity.”
About Livingstone College
Livingstone College is a private historically black college that is secured by a strong commitment to quality instruction, academic excellence and student success. Through a Christian-based environment suitable for holistic learning, Livingstone provides excellent business, liberal arts, STEAM, teacher education and workforce development programs for students from all ethnic backgrounds designed to promote lifelong learning, and to develop student potential for leadership and service to a global community. For more information, visit www.livingstone.edu.