Make every shot count: 29 Rowan students score pro basketball internships

Make every shot count: 29 Rowan students score pro basketball internships


The number of Rowan University students interning with the Delaware Blue Coats this semester could fill nearly six starting basketball teams.

This semester, 29 students in Rowan’s popular Sports Communication and Media (Sports CAM) program made the roster as interns with the Blue Coats, the G League affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers, and though they’re not on the court (most of the time) they’re as much a part of the game day experience as the players themselves.

The internship program grew out of a longtime friendship between Neil Hartman, director of Rowan’s Center for Sports Communication & Social Impact and an instructor in the Sports CAM program, and Blue Coats President Larry Meli.

The two, after developing an idea for the large-scale internship program over lunch on Rowan Boulevard, quickly sketched out a schedule in which as many as a dozen or more alternating students work every home game.

Building experience and gaining college credits, the students, many of them aspiring sportscasters, run cameras, call games, offer analysis, keep stats, work promotions, take tickets and interact with the team on all levels, from the players to the team president. Some even cover the games as designated Blue Coats beat reporters for The Whit.

All of which builds experience that can lead to a crucial first job.

“In this field, experience is everything,” said Hartman, an Emmy Award-winning former sportscaster.

For example, he said, when the students working as beat reporters for The Whit file a story, it runs on multiple platforms – from the Whit site to the Blue Coats’ to the 76ers’.

“There are a lot of eyeballs on those stories,” Hartman said.

During a Feb. 17 game against the Windy City Bulls, the G League affiliate of the Chicago Bulls, broadcast coverage was produced by Rowan students for ESPN+, a subscription video service.

“The game is being aired live and a team of Rowan students are behind the scenes,” Hartman said. “They’re behind cameras, computer screens, courtside keeping stats, a variety of roles.”

In fact, he said, every Blue Coats position held by a Rowan student mirrors one in the NBA.

“They are exactly the same, just on a larger scale in the NBA,” he said.

Fast-growing program

Begun in 2018, Rowan’s Sports CAM program is among the fastest-growing at the University. This semester, Hartman said, it includes 296 students either as majors or pursuing minors.

Senior Lloyd Wilson, a Sport CAM major with a journalism minor from Rochester, N.Y., sees his Blue Coats internship as one more step toward his dream job – a broadcasting position with the New York Knicks.

“I came to Rowan specifically for the broadcasting opportunities and I have not been disappointed,” said Wilson, who last season was one of two Rowan students to call the Blue Coats championship game live on Rowan Radio WGLS-FM.

Wilson, a former Eagles fan ambassador who also works for Princeton University’s athletics program, gets additional experience hosting a weekly show on Rowan Radio, the Early Bird Special.

“It’s all about experience, which is really the best teacher,” he said. “I found this is something I really love but when you have a goal, and for me that’s broadcasting for the Knicks, you have to always say I can’t stop now.”

Kara Guno, a junior Sports CAM major with a journalism minor from Edison, said she’s dreamed since middle school of becoming a sports broadcaster.

“I’m now calling G League games courtside and it’s the most wonderful experience,” she said.

“A direct pipeline”

Team President Meli noted that one of his key employees, Rowan alumna Rebecca Sulzbach, handles all of the Blue Coats social media and he looks forward to hiring more.

“These students are focused on partnering with a professional sports team and building a career. For me to have a direct pipeline of students I know I can lean on is huge.”

For now, Blue Coats senior director Alex Yoh said, Rowan students are filling just about every “game day category” there is and professional opportunities will follow.

“The G League has always been about development,” he said. “To be honest, the student in me is a little jealous. To be doing all of the things they’re doing before they even graduate… I don’t know of another university doing that.”

Hartman said an expanded internship program with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a minor league affiliate of the Washington Nationals baseball team, will provide a similar number of student opportunities this spring and summer.

Luke Lendler, a sophomore at Germantown Friends High School in Philadelphia who attended the Feb. 17 game to learn more about Rowan’s program opportunities, said he couldn’t be more impressed.

“I’m just 16 but sports broadcasting has been my dream since I was really young,” he said. “It’s the best way to get close to the action.”