SRU sport management students reflect on their experience working at the Super Bowl


SRU Students and staff at the Super Bowl

From left, Robert Zullo, Italia Romano, Lia Palermo, Katelyn Mumma, Zoe Johnson, Kaylie Pillart, Kendall Grossman, Robertha Abney, Tanner Babeo, Ryan Naugle, Aaron McCloskey, Artie Prioletti, Connor Cruise, Ethan McMaster, and Brian Crow were among the Slippery Rock University faculty and students who worked at the Super Bowl in Las Vegas.

Feb. 16, 2024

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — It's 4 a.m. and two Slippery Rock University students are awake in Las Vegas, fixing their eyes on something that, to them, seems like a dream. Italia Romano and Artie Prioletti got permission to see something that hours later would become the most watched event in U.S. television history: the playing surface at Super Bowl LVIII.

More than 123 million people watched the game and there were 15 SRU students and three professors who had the opportunity to work on site at Super Bowl LVIII during the week leading up to the game.

Romano and Prioletti, both junior sport management majors, said the pre-dawn glimpse of the field inside Allegiant Stadium gave them butterflies in their stomachs and tears in the eyes.

"It feels surreal that we were there," Romano said. "I never in a million years would have thought that I would get this opportunity."

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Prioletti said. "It was great just to be a part of the Super Bowl, because I know a lot of people can't say that. It was a blessing to be there and such a rewarding experience."

SRU's sport management program was selected by the NFL to provide students experience working at the league's marquee event. SRU was one of a few schools in the country invited by the NFL to staff the event with college students.

"This opportunity solidifies our position as one of the elite undergraduate sport management programs in the country," said Brian Crow, professor of sport management and department chair. "I couldn't be more proud of the way the students conducted themselves professionally and they really represented SRU well."

The SRU students helped staff the NFL Fan Experience, Feb. 9, assisted with the Bart Starr Awards Breakfast, Feb. 10, and the provided hospitality at Allegiant Stadium for event staff in the morning and afternoon on game day, Feb. 11. By kickoff, they were back at their hotel watching the game after a full day's work.

An estimated 600 college students from across the country volunteered at Super Bowl LVIII activities through of variety of companies and organizations. SRU was limited to 12 spots for students, so sport management majors were selected by department faculty to attend based on an application process. Three additional students were selected by Allied Universal to assist in event security and operations based on their exceptional game day service at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh last fall.

"I'm very proud to be a part of a department that has such a strong establishment in the industry," Romano said. "SRU has so many connections and such a strong network of alumni that allow us to have these opportunities."

SRU students met with alumni who were working at the Super Bowl in various capacities, including Jon Radke, '02, director of facilities operations for the Washington Commanders, and Randy Boczkowski, '07, branch manager at Contemporary Services Corporation, a security firm.

Additionally, because the group flew home by way of Los Angeles, they visited Connor Dodd, '15, who works in sales for the Los Angeles Rams and offered a tour of SoFi Stadium, site of the Super Bowl two years ago, and Olivia Beach, '20, an athletic compliance coordinator at the University of Southern California, who showed them USC's facilities.

The SRU students also attended a professional development networking event for college students hosted by the NFL at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

"It was great networking with other students and the people that we worked with for the NFL who were our managers," Romano said. "They were amazing and we want to keep in touch with them."

The SRU professors were even taken aback by the experience. In addition to Crow, Robertha Abney, associate professor of sport management, and Robert Zullo, instructor of sport management, were a part of the group from SRU. Abney has worked more than seven other Super Bowls during her career.

"I've never seen an event of this magnitude," Crow said. "It was good to see even the small details and how important they were, not just on game day, but the entire week."

Romano and Prioletti said they appreciated engaging with children during the NFL Fan Experience, throwing footballs and running through drills as part of the league's Play 60 initiative. They also benefited from being part of working an event of such a large scale, and how they can apply lessons to much smaller events in the future.

Professors at the Super Bowl

   SRU sport management
   professors Robert Zullo, Robertha
   Abney and Brian Crow.

"The one thing I keep learning is there are more jobs out there and there's so much you can do," Romano said. "It was eye-opening just how much goes into an event like this and seeing the behind-the-scenes of the event management is definitely something we can apply in our careers."

"I want to work in the sport industry and there are going to be long days and long nights," Prioletti said. "This type of work is what want to do and I really enjoyed the whole experience."

The SRU students selected to work for the NFL included:

  • Tanner Babeo, a senior sport management major from North Huntingdon.
  • Connor Cruise, a junior sport management major from Saint Petersburg, Florida.
  • Kendall Grossman, a senior sport management major from Orrtanna.
  • Zoe Johnson, a senior sport management major dual sport management and interdisciplinary programs major from North Olmstead, Ohio.
  • Aaron McCloskey, a senior sport management major from Clearfield.
  • Ethan McMaster, a junior sport management major from Mars.
  • Katelyn Mumma, a sophomore sport management major from New Cumberland.
  • Ryan Naugle, a junior sport management major from Dillsburg.
  • Lia Palermo, a junior dual sport management and dance major from Warrendale.
  • Kaylie Pillart, a senior sport management major from Gibsonia.
  • Artie Prioletti, a junior sport management major from New Castle.
  • Italia Romano, a junior sport management major from Rochester, New York.

The SRU students selected by Allied Universal were:

  • Brandon Boyles, a sophomore sport management major from Slippery Rock.
  • Brayden Himmelberger, a sophomore sport management major from Mohrsville.
  • Ty Kefauver, a sophomore sport management major from Middletown, Maryland.

More information about SRU's sport management program is available on the SRU website.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 |