USF Student-Athlete Receives Golden Opportunity During the College Football Playoff

Marcus' efforts recently led to a Volunteer of the Year award from the CFP Committee.
Marcus' efforts recently led to a Volunteer of the Year award from the CFP Committee.

TAMPA, FL - In 2016, Marcus Wingate, a senior on the University of South Florida Football team, submitted an application to participate in the For Student-Athletes by Student-Athletes (FSABSA) initiative managed by the Tampa Bay Sports Commission (TBSC).  

While enhancing the student-athlete experience is one of Tampa Bay’s top priorities when hosting premier collegiate championships,  the TBSC is also focused on elevating the experience for non-participating student-athletes as well. FSABSA provides a professional development platform for student-athletes by creating job opportunities related to Tampa Bay’s local hosting efforts and responsibilities.

Since the launch of FSABSA in 2015, the student-athlete focused initiative supported the 2015 NCAA Women’s Final Four, 2015 NCAA Division II Volleyball Championship, the 2016 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four and most recently the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship.  Over 100 student-athletes have applied, participated and impacted the successful outcomes of four Collegiate National Championships in Tampa Bay.

For Marcus, being selected was a dream come true as he was notified by the TBSC that he had been chosen to shadow Michael Kelly, the Chief Operating Officer of the College Football Playoff. With a wide-range of responsibilities on-tap, Marcus knew acting as Kelly’s volunteer assistant was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity:

“Marcus is a smart and engaging young man who did an excellent job assisting me and the entire CFP staff during National Championship week in Tampa," said Kelly. “He demonstrated a sincere desire to learn and was conscientious with every project he was given—no matter how big or small.  His future is bright and we look forward to keeping in touch with him.”

In fact, Marcus’ time spent on the College Football Playoff recently resulted in him being named Volunteer of the Year by the CFP Committee.

We had the chance to catch up with Marcus after the College Football Playoff  and learn more about his FSABSA experience.

Q: What is your current role/status at USF? What are your future career aspirations?

I’m currently enrolled at USF as student-assistant for the football team. My goal is to graduate in may with a degree in business analytics and information systems. I have a series of career aspirations. Ultimately, I would love to become an Athletics Director at a university. I could also see myself pursuing a career as a sports business consultant or some form of  faith-based athlete training.

Q: Describe your experience and responsibilities while working with Michael Kelly:

My experience with Michael Kelly was the opportunity of a lifetime! I had the chance to network with various high-level professionals within the collegiate sports industry and truly experience a big time, national event in my own backyard.

Some of the specific initiatives I assisted on included the College Football Playoff Social Passport program. I extensively toured each CFP ancillary venue and actively learned about many of the day-to-day responsibilities Mr. Kelly oversees and manages.

Q: What were a few key insights or take-aways you learned while working with Michael Kelly?

The CFP community  was helpful in getting me started and I learned how respected Michael was in the industry. He made himself available (and still does) to answer any questions I had about his role as well as  the sports industry. He treated me as a colleague and not just as his volunteer assistant. He basically showed me that I can do anything with proper networking and a great work ethic.. His colleagues reiterated this point throughout the week.

Q: Did any of the people you meet have an immediate impact on you? If so, who were they and why did they make such an impression?

Honestly, everyone I met made an impact on me. I sent out over 50 thank you cards and re-introduced myself to those individuals via LinkedIn. Every person gave me advice and I truly appreciated their insight. I hope one day I can work with them again.

Q: What was your favorite moment during your experience with Michael Kelly?

There are too many to list! I had the opportunity to experience the entire College Football Playoff on a professional level. What more could a senior heading out into the workforce ask for?! I enjoyed the entire week from reviewing the official game program, to touring setup of all ancillary events. I also had the priveledge of experiencing the ESPN party as well as the Usher concert. Postgame, I was responsible for securing the losing team's national championship shirts.

Q: How did this experience compare to other experiences you’ve had in the past? How do you feel this experience has helped you with your future?

This experience went above and beyond any I have had before. I had the opportunity to make the experience what I wanted. I connected with people I will undoubtedly see at future events. Hopefully, I can be a part of the National Championship in Atlanta in 2018. It was honestly the best experience I could have had moving into a career in the sports industry. It came at the perfect time. I always knew I loved sports... now I am 100% sure that the industry is just as good as the game. I’m so glad I got to be a part of the team that sets up a top-five sporting event in the world.