San Francisco Advantage

USF Behind the Scenes at Super Bowl 50

by Ed Carpenter, Office of Marketing Communications

As football fans prepare to celebrate a milestone in Super Bowl 50 by tuning into the country’s most watched televised event, we can all thank USF alumnus Pete Rozelle ’50 for making it happen.

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Rozelle was NFL commissioner from 1960 to 1989 and turned a floundering franchise operation into the prosperous industry it is today, by televising games, shifting to a profit-sharing business model, and coming up with Monday Night Football. Under Rozelle, the American Football League (AFL) and National Football League (NFL) came together for the first championship playoff in 1967 — giving birth to the Super Bowl.

USF’s football connections go beyond Rozelle and include nine players from the Dons’ historic 1951 team — three of whom became Pro Football Hall of Famers and one of whom became the NFL’s first African American on-field referee.

Out of the classroom and onto the 50-yard line

More than a dozen USF Sport Management alumni, students, and faculty members are part of the core team (called the Host Committee) responsible for pulling off Super Bowl 50, likely the largest San Francisco civic event since the world’s fair of 1939–40. 

Heading the Host Committee advisory board is Daniel Lurie, 2011 winner of the USF California Prize for Service and the Common Good and president and CEO of Tipping Point Community, a nonprofit that serves low-income Bay Area residents.

“It’s an amazing set of connections for USF and the program,” said Sport Management program director Dan Rascher, who breaks down the economics of Super Bowl 50 in the recent edition of USF Magazine.

In addition, more than 100 USFers — mostly members of the Delta Zeta sorority — will be part of the halftime show where they’ll cheer on fans and the halftime acts.

“The national recognition for USF and Delta Zeta is pretty awesome,” says USF graphic design major Madison August ’18, who’ll be there at the 50-yard line.

The university’s connections also paid off with a grant, when the 50 Fund, Super Bowl 50’s philanthropic arm, announced last week that it was donating $200,000 to USF’s Engage San Francisco program. The money will go to improve the coordination of mental health care services for young people in San Francisco's Western Addition neighborhood.

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