Transfer student finds opportunities, path to career in sports at Pacific

Transfer student Emmanuel “Manny” Leon ’20 found opportunities and a path to a career in sports in Pacific's sport management program.

Transfer student finds opportunities, path to career in sports at Pacific

Emmanuel “Manny” Leon ’20 took a long, winding road to arrive at University of the Pacific, but with the help from dedicated professors, a robust alumni network and the reminder of a promise he made to his father, the 29-year-old has found his path in life.

Leon is a sport management major at Pacific and an intern with the Stockton Kings.

“Choosing Pacific turned out to be the best decision ever,” Leon said. “My professors are very knowledgeable about the latest trends in the sports industry and challenge every student to apply what we have learned in class to a professional setting. In California, there are not many undergraduate sport management programs, so we’re very fortunate here.”

Leon transferred to Pacific in 2018, but not before experiencing multiple setbacks, including the death of his father. With the support of his grandmother, mother and uncles, Leon enrolled at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento “to do what I always told my dad I was going to do—finish school,” he said.

Leon initially aimed to transfer to a state school to major in history or business, but at the encouragement of a counselor and a chance encounter at a college fair, he decided to meet with a transfer advisor at Pacific. In that meeting, Leon, a former high school and college wrestler, shared his passion for sports and learned of careers in sport management.

“It turned out to be the best thing ever,” he said about choosing Pacific. “Not only do you take courses in business, but you take the sport courses. The classes are great and your professors know you by name, they genuinely care. I value that.”

Pacific has offered sport management since the early 1990s. Sport management students and faculty have partnered with local and regional sport organizations for research, event management, experiential learning and internships. This year, the concentration will transition into the Eberhardt School of Business, making Pacific the only Division I university to offer a sport management concentration in an accredited business school.

Pacific’s expansive alumni network is an added benefit that Leon has found while pursuing opportunities. Sport management alumni have gone on to careers in intercollegiate athletics, professional sports, sport services and sporting goods manufacturing. Last fall, Pacific alumna Kavita Dhillon ’16—now with the Toronto Raptors—reached out to Associate Professor Pete Schroeder about an internship opening with the Stockton Kings. In September, Leon was hired to help with game-day operations and corporate sponsorships, which have resulted in additional opportunities working with the Sacramento Kings. 

“Coming to Pacific has put me in positions to have a lot of opportunities,” said Leon, who is president of the Sport Management Club. 

Leon has had the opportunity to work during the National Collegiate Athletic Association 2019 Collegiate Men's Water Polo Championships hosted at Pacific, the College Football National Championship in the Bay Area, the National Hockey League All-Star Game and March Madness. Last year he spent 15 days in Europe as part of the “Sport and Globalization” class, which included tours of St. James Park in London, attending the French Open, watching a rugby match in Leicester, England, and meetings with leaders from NFL Europe and English Premier League.

While his path to Pacific wasn’t without obstacles, Leon said he knows he is now where he is meant to be. 

“This is my school, this is where I want to be,” Leon said. “I believe that the value at Pacific is more than I could get anywhere else.”