The University of Tampa has 20 sports in total. While the sports are split between the fall, winter and spring, multiple sports are running during each season. While watching the soccer games, I’m sure you’ve never thought about who comes out and paints the lines on the field or who pulls the bleachers out at basketball and volleyball games.
These are duties that fall upon Jerome Fulton, UT’s Facilities Director. That title is misleading though because while Fulton’s job does entail maintaining the facilities and keeping them immaculate, a large role he plays is in event production and coordination.
Student athletes, like Alexa DellaRocco on the women’s soccer team, recognize the role that Fulton plays in making sure they have a safe surface ready for each game.
“He has to do the behind the scenes work like tying down the goals, making sure the lines on the field are correct, making sure there’s no potholes in the middle of the field. He does a great job; he’s worked really well with our team,” DellaRocco said.
Fulton does this for almost every event at each venue, arriving two hours before each game to make sure everything is ready for the game. Then, Fulton must stick around during the game to make sure things are running smoothly.
“If something breaks or something malfunctions, I may not have all the expertise, but I have a phone number I can call of someone I know,” Fulton said.
What makes his position challenging at times is that Fulton is the only full-time member of the facilities staff, so he relies on assistance from students. “Normally, everything is student-produced, under my direction.
We have a great sport management program here and it’s a chance for some of those students to get experience without having to go off-campus,” Fulton said. Two of those students this semester are Kunal Desai, a graduate student, and Brooke Hanna, a senior sport management major.
“I haven’t seen such a nice supervisor in a long time. If you don’t know how to do something, he will do it with you. He doesn’t have an ego, he’s fun to be around and he’ll teach you. He has a good heart,” Desai said.
For Hanna, who is pursuing a career in event coordination, her experience with Fulton has helped her gain a greater appreciation for the role it plays. “[Just] realizing how much time and effort it is to put on an event.
You don’t realize how much is actually put into an event until you are the one working it,” Hanna said. “Jerome is the nicest manager you could ever want. We just try to help [him] in any way we can to make his time easier so he doesn’t have to do everything.”
Fulton has been at UT for 31 years. Fulton began by running the post office and then the facilities position became available. Fulton had no prior facilities experience, but they knew him and decided to take a chance. “[I had] no sport management background, but in the 25 years or so I’ve been doing it, I’ve probably gained a few textbooks worth of knowledge,” Fulton said.
Another challenge now is the construction currently underway on Bob Martinez Sports Center.
“Right now, we’re not doing as good a job as we need to. It’s confusing to everyone that doesn’t work here,” Fulton said. “It’s scheduled to be over soon— possibly mid-November we should be walking in unobstructed—which will make it a whole lot easier.”
Fulton has helped plan and coordinate all kinds of events in his time at UT. However, the one event that sticks out was when President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden held a town hall meeting at Martinez. “That is rare, that you ever get a sitting president and vice president in the same room, for security reasons. I got to be involved in a good portion of the planning and the execution of that event.”
For students looking to get into facilities, they need to understand that the hours are long. On a non-game day, Fulton works the regular 8:30 or 9 to 5. However, on a night with a game, he could be here for regular office hours until 10 p.m. or later.
“It helps if it’s more than just a paycheck and it’s something that you like doing. I love sports. I love participating, spectating and now I love coordinating.”
April Weiner can be reached at April.Weiner@spartans.ut.edu.