Luke Hayes ’14 Scores Dallas Cowboys Internship
It’s not often that a chance encounter leads to the opportunity of a lifetime, but that’s exactly what happened with Spring Hill Senior Luke Hayes ’14 when he attended Mobile, Ala.’s 2013 Senior Bowl practice.
On that January day, Hayes, an accounting major and former high school football star, met legendary Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the team’s head coach, Jason Garrett. During their conversation, Jones inquired about Hayes’ major at Spring Hill and his future career plans. Upon learning Hayes intended to pursue his CPA certification, Jones shared that the Cowboys franchise offered a student internship and encouraged him to apply.
“You don’t say no to Jerry Jones, so I sent in the paperwork, not really expecting to get chosen,” said Hayes. “When I heard back right away, and was offered an internship with Tom Walker, the Dallas Cowboys’ tax director, I jumped at the chance. It’s been an amazing opportunity.”
Hayes considers himself very fortunate to able to meld both of his passions—football and the business of accounting. “It’s been a crazy ride. I’m very blessed,” added Hayes. “The best part is that the Dallas Cowboys internship is not a stereotypical work/study role. Tom Walker has been an incredible mentor. He expects a high level of performance and dedication.”
Walker has assigned Hayes a multitude of real-world responsibilities, including reviewing property transactions for Jones’ multiple real estate entities, reviewing tax returns for accuracy, and securing quotes from companies that support the Cowboys franchise in order to evaluate efficiency of services and calculate savings.
A whirlwind trip to Oxnard, California was part of Hayes’ internship. “I was able to work at the Cowboys’ training camp doing sales reconciliations and working with different vendors,” said Hayes. “Through it all, I’ve worked hard and learned so much. Jerry Jones is an amazing businessman, not only in running the very successful Cowboys’ franchise, but the management of his interests in land, oil, and gas. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be a part of his team.”
Stephen Wilson, associate professor of theology was the first person at Spring Hill to find out about Hayes’ internship with the Cowboys. “When Luke got the call, he was in my office. He’d come by to make sure he was clear on material for an upcoming test in my Catholicism course,” said Wilson. “Luke’s phone rang. He apologized and asked whether I would mind him taking the call. He came back a few minutes later with a look that was some mixture of excitement and nervousness, a byproduct of pure adrenaline. He then told me about the opportunity. After congratulating him (and giving him a ribbing for "betraying" his hometown Buccaneers), he calmed down, and we finished discussing the test, which, of course, he subsequently nailed.”
Hayes, a Tampa, Fla. native, will returned this fall to Spring Hill for his final two semesters on campus. His plans for senior year include remaining at the top of his class rank and continuing to earn all A’s in his coursework.
Dr. James Larriviere, associate professor of economics and finance, adds that Hayes’ academic success is well-deserved. “Luke is an active learner; he takes the initiative to learn more about any topic being discussed,” said Dr. Larriviere. “He is very personable, always prepared, on time, and I can count on him to be ready to answer questions.”
Dr. Matthew Bagot, assistant professor of theology, comments that Hayes’ personality makes him a stand-out student. “Luke is one of the most engaged, insightful and enjoyable students I've ever had at Spring Hill. He is really fun to have in class.”
Hayes says that attending Jesuit High School in Tampa provided a solid preparation for college—and he soon realized that Spring Hill was the perfect fit. “The idea of continuing my education at a Jesuit school was very appealing. I liked the liberal arts education and small class size here,” said Hayes. “I didn’t want to learn from a TA in a class of fifty students. It’s important that I knew my teachers and they all knew me.”
The recipient of the prestigious St. Ignatius Scholarship, and a member of Spring Hill’s National Society of Leadership, Hayes plans to balance his studies working with at-risk children in local elementary schools.
“After a summer interning with the second most valuable sports franchise in the world—a two billion dollar industry—I’m happy to give back to the local community and work with kids in need,” said Hayes. “I’ll be tutoring kindergarten through fifth grade students in math.”
In December, Hayes plans to begin applying to graduate school. Among his choices are Vanderbilt, the University of South Florida, and Louisiana State University.
“I feel well-prepared for graduate school and achieving my goal of becoming a CPA,” said Hayes. "I’ve gained a solid understanding of sports accounting and business management in a very narrow field by working with one of only 32 NFL teams,” said Hayes. “It’s been an incredible experience.”
*Reprinted from The Spring Hill College Magazine, Fall 2013