The Orange Bowl Committee recently appointed its 80th president, and he’s hoping to use his position to highlight lesser-known aspects of the organization.
Riviera Beach native and Florida State University alumnus Sean Pittman, who took over on Jan. 22., is just the fourth African American to serve as committee president its 85-year history.
“It’s an amazing feeling any time a group of your peers decides they want you to represent them to the world,” Pittman said.
Pittman said he was initially captivated by the Orange Bowl Committee as part of FSU’s travel delegation to the National Championship Game in 1993. During the trip to Miami, he met his idol, Muhammed Ali.
“It left a striking memory of the Orange Bowl in my mind,” he said. “I wanted to know who those guys in the orange jackets were.”
After graduating, he learned how to become a committee member. He officially joined in 2005.
Pittman said he wants to show the world that the committee is about more than just its annual Capital One Orange Bowl game held at the Hard Rock Stadium that determines the Atlantic Coast Conference champion.
His primary reason for joining the committee, he said, was “because of what they do for the community.”
Among the committee’s programs is Legacy Gifts, which collaborates with local governments to rebuild athletic fields in inner cities so young athletes have safe places to play. There are three Legacy Gifts fields in Miami-Dade County and one in Broward.
Pittman plans to expand the program to Palm Beach County, where he was born and raised.
“I’m excited for Sean and excited for what the next year holds for the committee,” said Palm Beach County Sports Commission Executive Director George Linley, an ex-officio member of the Orange Bowl Committee.
Recognizing that his position involves the responsibility of being a role model, Pittman said he had a message for young people who may look up to him.
“We are only as strong as our weakest link,” he said. “We must all join together and uplift our community any way we can.”