A self-proclaimed “sports geek,” Luke Rubin grew up dreaming of one day spending his Saturdays as a television analyst breaking down college football games. That passion took him 1,300 miles from his hometown in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to the University of Missouri campus, as Rubin was interested in pursuing a journalism degree.
“In high school, my primary goal was to become a sports journalist,” Rubin said. “Sports were such a big part of my life growing up, and I really wanted to become a member of the media, specifically covering college football. I was just super passionate about college football – I couldn’t get enough of it.
“My dad had a friend who suggested Mizzou as a great option if I was going to get into journalism. We took a trip to Columbia during my junior year of high school, and I fell in love with the campus immediately. I knew MU was going to be the place for me.”
After being accepted into the Missouri School of Journalism, Rubin also secured a student assistant job with the MU football team during his first semester as a Tiger. And while Rubin said he was excited to begin the process of one day becoming a reporter, it was that inside access to the football team that switched his focus from reporting to working directly with a team. He soon changed his major to parks, recreation and sport (PRS).
“College football has always been my favorite sport – I honestly idolized the players,” Rubin said. “When I first got here, I was immediately in awe that I was sitting in the same room as Drew Lock. It was definitely a surreal feeling.”
Rubin was a student assistant in the recruitment department and wore several hats throughout his four years with the team. Rubin said he did everything from helping break down game film to working directly with the players.
“I always referred to myself as a player personnel student assistant,” Rubin said. “There was something new to do each day, and I enjoyed being able to interact with the players so often. I gained so much respect for our student athletes – the game of football is complicated enough and they balance their sport with school. It was so impressive to see firsthand.
“I also really liked seeing the business side of working with a team. Seeing the ins and outs of how things run definitely piqued my interest.”
Rubin earned his parks, recreation and sport degree in May and now gets to see the inner workings of a sports business through his job with The Basketball Tournament. Rubin serves as a team relations specialist where he offers support to the players and teams that compete in the $1 million, winner-take-all tournament. A total of 64 teams compete each year for the prize.
“I started working the Wednesday after graduation,” Rubin said. “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. The tournament begins in July, so there was a lot to accomplish right when I accepted the job.
“While it has been super busy, I love what I’m doing. It’s exciting to be able to put what I learned at Mizzou into practice.”
Rubin said that more than 100 teams apply to play in The Basketball Tournament. The rosters are made up of a variety of players, including former NBA players, Div. I standouts and overseas professionals. The tournament is structured like March Madness and includes eight different regionals. Rubin will travel to a few of the locations to take in the festivities and lend his support.
“I came to the realization in college that I really wanted to work in football or basketball,” Rubin said. “Football seemed liked a natural fit, just because of all of the great experiences I was able to secure with the Mizzou football team. But once the opportunity with The Basketball Tournament came up, I knew I had to take it. It has been the perfect fit.”
Rubin added that his time with the MU football team, as well as his work in the PRS degree program, helped prepare him for his first full-time job.
“I’ll never forget the experiences I had while at Mizzou,” Rubin said. “The parks, recreation and sport degree program really shaped me and prepared me to jump straight into the ‘real’ world. The faculty made the coursework as useful as possible and all of the content was super interesting and relatable.
“I also am so appreciative of my time with the Mizzou football team. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their support.”