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Jun 20, 2019 2019-06 Alumni Business Administration

Burge partnering with golf's biggest stars as sports agent

Growing up, Alex Burge (BADM ’15) always envisioned himself on the professional golf scene. Now at 26 years old, the Gies College of Business alumnus is living that dream, though it’s a little different than he imagined.

Burge is a sports agent in Excel Sports Management’s golf division. Headed by Tiger Woods’ longtime agent and Illinois alumnus Mark Steinberg, Excel’s golf division represents nearly two dozen professionals across the United States and Europe.

Alex Burge 2“As a sports agent, our job is to handle everything an athlete needs so he or she can perform at their highest level,” said Burge, who is based in Excel’s New York City headquarters. “We handle everything from building a player’s brand with endemic and non-endemic partners, to handling media and marketing requests and securing playing opportunities for up-and-coming professionals.”

It’s been a great experience for Burge, who knows the game of golf inside and out. He enjoyed a standout golf career at Illinois, where he played in three NCAA Tournaments and helped Illinois to a second place finish in 2013. “It definitely has taken a little adjustment since I’m not competing on the course anymore,” he said. “I’m still around the game, though, and being involved in the business side of golf has been really enjoyable.”

Business has always been of particular interest for Burge, who said he always had his eye on Illinois’ business school. Pairing a Gies Business education with Illinois’ elite golf program was a no-brainer. He graduated in 2015 with a degree in management with an emphasis in entrepreneurship.

“The best word I would use to describe my education at Gies is ‘interactive.’ My whole experience, all the way down to my basic accounting and finance courses was interactive,” said Burge, who also earned a master’s degree in sports management at Illinois. “There were so many great group projects that gave me real experience working with other people to get a job done.”

His Gies education helped pave the way for Burge to transition away from playing the game. He says he had several thorough conversations with Illinois head golf coach and Gies Business alumnus Mike Small. The two talked about the difficulty of succeeding in professional golf and what other opportunities exist in the business aspect of the game.

Toward the end of his senior season Small introduced Burge to Steinberg, and the two made an instant connection. At the time, Steinberg was looking to hire someone who would be a “road warrior,” traveling from event to event for Excel. It was the perfect chance for Burge to get his foot in the door.

“I jumped at the opportunity,” said Burge, who has travelled to nearly every PGA Tour event while working for Excel. “Mark is one of the most well-respected sports agents in the world. Working for Excel has been a great experience. It has an amazing family atmosphere, just like my experience on the Illinois golf team and at Gies.”

Burge’s experience at Gies continues to serve him well. He says he learned valuable communication and leadership skills that he uses every day. Teamwork, he learned, isn’t just about working with others, but it’s also about being able to work independently on a deadline and produce quality work your teammates can count on. His Gies education, in addition to his success on the Illinois golf team, helped launch Burge’s post-playing career – and it’s something he won’t forget.

“I love the University of Illinois and Gies Business so much. I had a great time and built great relationships,” he said. “I’m proud to be a part of the Illini family. I always want to stay involved and help out in any way I can.”