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KNOXVILLE — TEAM UT, a group of eight graduate and undergraduate students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, heads to Arlington, Texas, on Tuesday to work behind the scenes at Super Bowl XLV, one of the largest one-day mega-sporting events in the world.

This year’s game, on Feb. 6, will feature NFC Champion Green Bay Packers and AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

TEAM UT will work directly with the North Texas-Host Super Bowl XLV Committee on operations and facility event management. The group will help manage events hosted by NFL commissioners, team general managers and team owners and work at essential game-day activities throughout the stadium, such as the corporate hospitality program.

This will be the fifth trip of its kind. TEAM UT has been a part of Super Bowls XLI (Miami), XLII (Arizona), XLIII (Tampa) and XLIV (Miami). The program is the brainchild of 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.”

Bob Rider, dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, said the TEAM UT experience has been good for the students — and the university.

“TEAM UT continues to distinguish itself by providing talent, expertise and hard work through their internship with the NFL’s Super Bowl,” he said. “I’m very proud of the visibility the efforts of our students and faculty bring to the college and the university and look forward to yet another successful experience for TEAM UT at this year’s Super Bowl.”

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.”

Mike Wirth, Dean of the College of Communication and Information, agreed: “Participating in this program provides College of Communication and Information students with a remarkable opportunity to gain professional experience. We are very proud of the students selected and know that the TEAM UT program will have a significant positive impact on their post-graduate careers.”

The students were selected through a rigorous interview and application process. Each student submitted an essay describing their five-, 10-, and 15-year goals, and how being a part of TEAM UT would assist him or her in accomplishing them. 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 has 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.


Chris Borns, traveling with TEAM UT, (615) 477-6566,

Amy Blakely, UT Media Relations, (865-974-5034,