Sports Management alumni take center stage in NFL

Evan Pflugradt

In sports there is no stage bigger than the National Football League, and seven alumni of the Wichita State Sports Management program have achieved success working on that stage.

Dan Beckler is in his sixth season as senior manager of football communications for the San Francisco 49ers. In his time with the 49ers, he has seen three straight NFC Championship Titles and a Super Bowl appearance.

“Once I realized how much I enjoyed the NFL, I was determined to make it work,” Beckler said.

Beckler works directly with players and the front office to handle public relations operations. He oversees internal organization postings through Beckler directly works with local and various national organizations to publicize the team.

“Our main goal is to publicize players through the local market and then work them up to the national scene,” Beckler said. “National outlets, ESPN and Sports Illustrated, work with our department very consistently.”

Kellen Begnoche, client services manager for the Kansas City Chiefs, oversees all aspects of the Suite Services team and VIP hospitality for all suite members and corporate partners.

 “My position with the Chiefs is the perfect blend of business and football,” Begnoche said. “I view my role with the Chiefs as a member of a business unit, and the product that we happen to sell just so happens to be football.”

Amy Foreman, events operations coordinator for AT&T Stadium and the Dallas Cowboys, has been part of the Final Four, the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship, the record-breaking final George Strait concert, the record-breaking 50th ACM Awards, an NFL playoff game and much more.

Obtaining a job in professional sports can be hard to come by. And a job in the NFL is even more elusive.

“It’s difficult,” Foreman said. “There are nine full-time staff members in our department, and only two got their job just by applying. The rest of us were recommended by a colleague or were rehired by a supervisor we had worked for previously. The sports industry is all about who you know.”

Beckler said connections are the best way to get a start. While networking is essential, Beckler said hard work will never go unnoticed.

“You have to be able to work hard,” Beckler said. “You should be the first one in and the last one out. It’s coming through when you’re called upon that leaves a strong lasting impression.”

Begnoche and Beckler said internships were ultimately what allowed them to break into the league.

“There’s a lot of long hours involved for not much pay, but when you get that final break for a full time position there is nothing more rewarding,” Beckler said. “You can’t just go from point A to point B without some hard work along the way.”

Beckler first realized the opportunity to work in the NFL while in a class with Clay Stoldt when he was told about a sports publicity program put together by ESPN. Beckler was selected for the internship where he had first-hand experience working a training camp for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Begnoche said there’s a lot of turnover in sports, so you never know where your next break might come from.

“The only guarantee is to keep working hard and make the most of every opportunity,” Begnoche said.