Alumnus Brings Holiday Bowl Games to San Diego

Mark Neville

Not many of us can say that we began our “dream job” straight out of college. But luck struck for alumnus Mark Neville, Marshall ’91—he’s been working for the San Diego Bowl Game Association for almost 25 years.

Neville began an internship with the association immediately after graduating from UC San Diego. “I encourage all graduating seniors and young graduates to take advantage of intern opportunities,” he says. “You will be providing yourself with invaluable lessons and experiences, plus you will have a much better chance of being in the right place at the right time, like me.”

What started off as an internship grew into a great career opportunity—Neville became the associate executive director, where he oversaw the bowl’s corporate sponsorship campaign, lead marketing, advertising, public and media relations efforts, and managed events. Earlier this year, Neville accepted the position of executive director, succeeding his predecessor, Bruce Binkowski, who held the position for 14 years. According to Neville, it was his background as an economics major that helped him develop the skillset needed to fill these shoes. He adds, “My major went a long way toward developing in me a mental toughness to stick with challenging projects and situations.” It was this goal-oriented mindset that made his transition from college to a career a seamless one.

The San Diego Bowl Game Association hosts two bowl games during the two slowest tourism weeks for the San Diego region: The National University Holiday Bowl and the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. The bowl games play a significant economic role in the success of San Diego’s tourism industry—bringing in more than $35 million to the city last year and a total of over $750 million since 1978.

This year, the National University Holiday Bowl Game will take place on December 30. In its 38th year, the Holiday Bowl Game will showcase a match-up of top teams from the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences. “Whenever you match Big Ten and Pac-12 teams on the football field, memorable things happen.  Couple that with the tradition-rich pageantry the Holiday Bowl provides and it’s an experience everyone can enjoy,” adds Neville.

The Poinsettia Bowl is a newer tradition, established in 2005. This year, the bowl game will be hosted on December 23 and will feature Boise State versus Northern Illinois.  For the first time in history, The Poinsettia Bowl will kick off in the early afternoon to accommodate an extravagant post-game fireworks show, “Stadium Spectacular.” The new show will unveil fireworks technology that has never been seen before in North America.

“I’m so fortunate to make a living doing something that I believe in so strongly,” Neville says. “I’m truly passionate about San Diego’s bowl games and the benefit they provide to the San Diego region.”