Life After JCU — Ben Milsom ‘01


Ben Milsom

Ben Milsom with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Bucs won the Super Bowl in 2021.

Ashley McCall, Sports Editor

When thinking about professional sports, the players and coaches often get the most spotlight as they are some of the most visible contributors to the game. However, fans forget about the most important people in an organization, the people who make the decisions about how to run the team: the front office administrators and management. 

The pipeline from John Carroll University to the National Football League continues to be highlighted in the news but people tend to disregard the behind-the-scenes individuals who make the magic happen when you walk into the stadium. 

This is the job of Ben Milsom, a 2001 JCU alumni who now works as the Chief Ticketing Officer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Milsom’s journey to the NFL is one laced with hard work and dedication, something he contributes a lot to his time as a Carroll student. So, how did a kid from Pittsburgh, PA end up in Cleveland, OH? 

“Interestingly enough, my uncle lived in Shaker Heights. He was a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and he knew someone in the athletic department at John Carroll,” explained Milsom. “I was looking at different Division III schools but I wanted to be able to get a really good education and still play sports. I stepped on campus and I just fell in love. There’s something about red brick and college campuses, it’s pretty wild.”

Milsom came to John Carroll in the Fall of 1997 where he started his classes in the newly renamed Boler School of Business. He was majoring in marketing. 

“It was hard. John Carroll is a hard school and the people that I was in class with were extremely intelligent. They came from really good families and situations. That’s what is special about John Carroll, it puts you in an environment where you have to step up your game. I was a public school kid from Pittsburgh. My high school wasn’t as intense as what I was faced with at John Carroll but it was great because it got me ready to compete in the business world and to work hard and manage my time. The expectations were high and they still are today which is what makes it such a great school.”

If graduating from Boler was not enough, Milsom also played football for the Blue Streaks as he learned how to manage time through his school work and practices. 

“Being a student athlete, I didn’t have time to mess around. My grades were better whenever I was in season because I had to be eligible. I knew I had to go to practice, go to classes and study. It pushed you to compete. They always say ‘high tide raises all ships’ but that’s the way it was. I was in classes with valedictorians from high school and people who turned down Notre Dame and Boston College to go to John Carroll but that helped me learn how to be a professional so that when I went to work for a team, I was ready. I was ready to compete and be a professional because that’s how it was at Carroll.”

While at John Carroll, Milsom started to break into the sports world as he had two internships which included working with the Cleveland Lumberjacks, a minor league hockey team, and IMG. 

“Having those two experiences got me and my resume ready to pursue a job. I knew that most of the jobs that I was going to apply to were going to be in sales and I knew I was probably going to have to relocate. Both of these thoughts made me really uncomfortable but were both very necessary. I wanted to stay in Pittsburgh or Cleveland but those organizations didn’t need anyone to sell because the fan bases were pretty loyal, so I started to look elsewhere and I had an opportunity in Tampa with the Lightning of the National Hockey League.”

Milsom worked for the Lightning for two years before moving to Indianapolis to work for the Indiana Pacers in the National Basketball Association. He worked with that organization for four years until he went to the Sacramento Kings and stayed in the NBA. After two years, Milsom moved back to Tampa to work for the Bucs where he has remained for the last 13 years. 

“The Buccaneers need to sell tickets for their games. I didn’t really believe them because I lived there before and the Bucs were either always sold out or really hard to get tickets to, but they told me that they really needed to sell tickets and they wanted to build a staff and do it the right way. I always said that if I could come back to the east coast and be back in Tampa, doing what I know how to do, that would be ideal and that’s what happened. I told my mom I was moving back to the east coast and I think she cried.”

Whether it’s the weather or the people, Milsom loves Tampa and Florida.

Milsom with his family in Germany for the Bucs game this season. (Ben Milsom)

“I think Tampa is one of the hidden gems of the country. You have people who move here from everywhere on the east coast so it’s a melting pot. The commonality is the people. You get to meet them and understand their culture and things like that. It’s a special place.”

Back on the east coast, Milsom took on a new position with the Bucs as he used his John Carroll ideals to excel in his career. 

“I was hired here as Director of Sales and I was just overseeing selling, but I gradually took on more responsibility. I took over our service team. I took over group sales and I got promoted to Chief Ticketing Officer. I am one of five executives on the business side that really run the day to day.”

One of his main responsibilities is to focus on the experience fans have when they come to the stadium as he hopes that he and his team can persuade people to continue to come back again for the experience.

“We are number one in making sure that everyone is having a great experience when they come to our stadium. We have been number one in the NFL in customer service in 8 out of the last 10 years. That’s really important to us. Whenever we have the inventory to sell we go out and sell those tickets to individuals and companies. It’s anything from a luxury suite down to an individual ticket. We are hyper focused on the experience being amazing. We make sure the people are nice and you are welcomed when you come in. It’s not like we sell you a ticket, and say ‘good luck, thumbs up, hopefully the team wins.’ It’s a lot more than that.”

Milsom is just one of the many JCU alumni who currently work in the NFL but he, just like the many others, have positive words to say about the rest. 

“I tell people all the time, if I can think back to being on the practice field with Josh McDaniels, Nick Caserio, London Fletcher and all of these people working in the NFL, never in a million years would we have thought that this is where we would have ended up. We knew that these people would be successful but no one could have ever said that London Fletcher would go on and play in the NFL. No one would have ever said ‘oh yeah, Josh McDaniels is going to be a head coach.’ You just knew that they were hard working, determined, dedicated, that they were good football players, good students and you knew they were going to do something great.”

He attributes his personal and professional success to how John Carroll education is based in Jesuit ideals, which has become a common theme for Blue Streak students. 

“I’ve always had faith in my life. I was raised in a Christian home but I really enjoyed going to John Carroll and taking religion classes. They try to develop the whole person at JCU. I think Jesuit education is key and is very important to me.”

Milsom takes developing the whole person to heart as he now tries to help students in any way he can to help further them into their future career, embracing the infamous “John Carroll connection.”

“It’s interesting because JCU helps you to become successful, but then as an alumni you have a responsibility to help other people become successful too. We know what a Carroll athlete or student is going to be like and what they are going to give you. Very rarely do they disappoint. That’s the biggest thing, you just know what you are getting when you get someone from John Carroll.

“We are all willing to help out. We all understand. Very rarely will you call or reach out to an alumni on LinkedIn and they won’t take the time to call or meet with you. Whether that’s in sports or ecology or whatever it is, the John Carroll student needs to reach out to the alumni.”

His other big piece of advice for students specifically looking to work in professional sports is to never give up and to keep investing in yourself. 

“It’s not going to be easy. It’s very hard. The business weeds out the weak and can come across as harsh but that’s the reality of it. There’s a lot of people that fall off along the way but, if you are determined and work hard, you can get the life you want. I’ve worked in sports my entire career, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I was really focused on that and being successful and providing for my family. That determination, drive and patience is really key. Investing into relationships is what is really going to stand out and test the time.”

Building those connections and relationships is what will lead to success in the sports world. If I have learned anything from starting this series of articles, it is that John Carroll alumni are passionate about instilling wisdom and offering help whenever it is needed. 

Ben Milsom is a prime example of a JCU alumni giving back to his alma mater after the many achievements that he has had in both his personal and professional life. His successes are some that many individuals hope to mirror as the next generation of Blue Streaks head to the NFL management and front offices.