Communication Student Interns at Collegiate Bowl
Robert “Bo” Bunton, senior Communication student at Maryville University landed the dual jobs of staff photographer and player liaison for the Texas squad in the third annual Texas vs. The Nation All-Star collegiate football game at Sun Bowl Stadium. The game aired on CBS network television on Saturday, January 31, 2009.
Bunton was brought on board through connections made by Jeff Miller, vice president of enrollment at Maryville. Miller stumbled upon the last-minute job openings while scouting internship opportunities for Maryville’s sports management students.
“The director of operations, Mark Salmans, is a longtime friend of mine. I had talked with him about week and a half before the game date regarding internship opportunities for Maryville students during next year’s bowl game,” Miller said. “In that conversation, he asked if we had any students that had done sports photography to serve as back up for the main photographer throughout the week. I knew Bo had done a lot of sports photography and recommended him.”
As the week progressed, one of the player liaisons dropped out and Bunton was offered that responsibility, as well.
“So Bo’s level of participation increased and his exposure to the athletes, NFL scouts and CBS sports officials increased dramatically in a very short time,” Miller said.
Bunton was handed a box of new business cards, flown to El Paso, Texas, and put to work shuffling itineraries for 25 athletes for the entire week leading up to the game, 24 hours a day.
“As soon as I got into the hotel, I put my bags in my room and I met the staff in the War Room. Let me tell you, it’s a war room for a reason,” Bunton said. “There were tons of papers on the walls and tables about what was going to happen throughout the week.”
After being assigned to the Texas squad, Bunton’s duties included making sure the players made it on time to meals, autograph sessions, NFL tryouts and interviews, CBS interviews prior to the game, daily practice and all special events. His contribution to the behind-the-scenes operation was recognized early on by one of Bunton’s football heroes who served as the Texas team’s head coach.
“I met legendary coach Gene Stallings during the team meetings, and he called me out in front of the whole team and explained how important my role to the team was,” Bunton said.
In an e-mail Bunton sent from Texas with the subject header, “Day Two,” he wrote: “I am really excited about this opportunity because I am meeting a lot of big time people and getting my name out there about what I can do. Each player has his credential pass with his picture and team on it, and on the back is my picture with my phone number on it in case of any questions.”
Bunton’s internship experience will pave the way for other Maryville students to have similar opportunities, Miller said.
“For Maryville, Bo is leading the way for us to tie in closely with this bowl game for both sports management and communication majors,” he said. Miller plans to meet with his friend, Salmans, and Jason Williams, assistant professor of sports management at Maryville, to design internship opportunities for a group of students next year.
“Making good job connections is one of the main reasons I came to Maryville,” Bunton said. “In this job, I learned a lot and put in a lot of hard-worked hours trying to keep 25 college football seniors under control and on time for meetings, practices and interviews.”
Bunton, who hopes to work in sports broadcasting after graduation, is currently a sports announcer at both Maryville and Parkway North High School, and is a high school sports sideline reporter for CCIN Charter. He plays baseball for Maryville University.
“Sports journalism is a tough market, so broadcasting might not end up being my full time job,” Bunton said, adding, “but no matter what I’ll be doing it on the side. I’m just hoping to catch a big break.”
He is the son of Stephanie and Bob Bunton of Chesterfield, Mo. His father is head football coach and a teacher at Parkway North, Bunton’s alma mater. Blake Bunton, his brother, is a freshman in the sports management program at Maryville and is also a Saints baseball player.
Maryville University, founded in 1872, is a four-year, private university located in west St. Louis County. Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges in the Masters-Midwest category, Maryville University students may choose from 50 academic programs, including degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. Among recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. More than 15,000 Maryville alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.