04/11/22: New Southland Commissioner Chris Grant talks business

Medias First Morning Read
Monday April 11, 2022

Amid the drama this past year the resulted in a slew of college conference reshuffling, the Southland Conference had its turn for a big week as Chris Grant officially took the reigns as the eighth commissioner of the organization, coupled with the announcement that Lamar University would be departing the WAC to return to the conference it helped found and would be competing in all sports beginning with the 2023-2024 academic year.
With the new role, Grant is moving quickly to best position the league on a competitive national stage, tapping the talents of Troika for a full rebrand of the conference. Lamar’s move comes as part of a recent trend in the changing landscape of college athletics, as schools and conferences grapple with the implications of factors such as NIL agreements, the transfer portal, and the reimagining of the NCAA. Cynopsis Sports asked Grant about his new role, his vision for the conference and his thoughts on the rapidly changing collegiate landscape.

Grant on becoming Commissioner: My north star has always been putting student-athletes in the best position to succeed on and off the field of play, focusing on where I can deliver the most value right now. My experience as a student-athlete, then as a graduate assistant coach opened my eyes to the good that college sports can do. When I landed a spot at a Conference office, it gave me an opportunity to work with multiple institutions and student-athlete groups to push for change and innovation at a high level. Student athletes deserve our best efforts.
Also, it’s not lost on me that I am one of the few African American commissioners in collegiate athletics. So, I really see this new role as an opportunity to be a great role model and help others find their way into leadership roles at both the school and Conference level.

On the greatest challenge in his job: Alignment. Making sure that all our schools and the people involved day-to-day are aligned around a clear vision of where we are going. This conference has a rich history, but we can’t stay rooted in who we were. We need to focus on who we are now and who we want to be in the future.

On realignment affecting the conference: Some may look at the swirl of conference realignment and see chaos. We see opportunity! While we lost some schools to realignment, our remaining members are strong and united in their belief in this Conference. They are here for the right reasons, and that will only lead to more stability, collegiality, and cohesion as we move to solidify our brand and tell our story as one conference.

On his vision for the conference: These next two years are all about upgrading. We want to excel beyond the minimum standards of D1 membership. It starts with attracting new members, and we’re off to a fast start by welcoming back into the Conference, Texas based, Lamar University. It also means enhancing our brand, which is where our new brand initiative with Troika comes into play.
If we’re looking ten years from now, I want our conference to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue during March Madness, postseason championships or at academic conferences. I want to turn on a TV and see our athletes competing at the highest levels while our institutions tell their stories to a national audience. We want to be known for having attractive institutions that are forward thinking and highly competitive. Schools that will make their alumni and communities swell with pride.

On the conference rebrand: When it comes to our brand, we wanted it to reflect the tight knit communities that our schools represent. These communities are resilient, with a strong history of overcoming challenges both on and off the fields of play. Troika emerged very early on as a company that could help us tell the regional story of this conference at a national and global level. Their work with ESPN, UFC, Yahoo Sports and Power-5 brands like the SEC, ACC, Big 10 and Pac-12 has shown their innate ability to align stakeholders across multiple campuses and communities around a cohesive brand strategy. One that elevates the academic and athletic exposure for each institution. On top of that, their global perspective and passion for collegiate sports and higher education is second to none. Our new branding initiative driven by Troika will mark my most aggressive action as commissioner as we rebrand the conference with a new name, new logo, and new identity. We’re confident the outcome of our collaboration will reflect our fresh vision and accelerate us into the future.

PROGRAMMING

The Masters propelled ESPN for its first two rounds with the company reporting that its live telecasts of the tournament saw upticks on both days. The second round on Friday averaged 3.5 million viewers for a 31% gain from last year’s second round, according to Nielsen Fast National data, driven by Tiger Woods’ comeback that brought him above the cutline. ESPN’s live telecast of the first round on Thursday averaged 2.8 million viewers for a 21% climb over last year and ESPN’s largest first round audience since 2018. Also on Thursday, ESPN+ had its most viewed-day of golf ever as fans tuned in to watch Tiger Woods’ return to the Masters.

FOX Sports named award-winning broadcaster Joe Davis to FOX MLB’s lead play-by-play position – becoming the new voice of MLB’s premier events. Davis, who was tapped in 2017 to succeed Vin Scully, as the voice of the Dodgers, joins John Smoltz in the network’s lead booth. The pair join Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal to present FOX Sports’ coverage of the 2022 MLB All-Star Game, MLB at Field of Dreams Game and MLB Postseason. Davis’ first appearance in his new role is set for May 28 on FOX. Additionally, he will continue his role for local Dodgers telecasts on SportsNet LA.

Rounding out its baseball cast this season, FOX Sports also announced that its studio team would be made up of Kevin Burkhardt and Eric Karros, joined by host Chris Myers, Dontrelle Willis, Frank Thomas and Mark Sweeney for select events. In addition, World Series champions Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz join the studio for special events. Throughout the season, announcers Adam Amin and Eric Karros are joined by A.J. Pierzynski and Tom Verducci in contributing to FOX MLB game coverage. FOX Deportes’ talent lineup is led by renowned play-by-play announcer Adrian Garcia Marquez and Edgar Gonzalez. Joining the team throughout the season are veteran broadcasters Carlos Alvarez and Jaime Motta.

Speaking of FOX, the company is celebrating the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series race scheduled on Easter Sunday with a special weekend programming block, including a telecast of Bristol Motor Speedway’s Easter celebration service and the return Darrell Waltrip, who retired as a FOX NASCAR. At 4:30p on Sunday, prior to the start of prerace programming, FS1 will televise Bristol Motor Speedway’s Easter celebration service from outside the stadium in the fan midway area.

DAZN and Barstool Sports are teaming up for a new broadcast experience for Canelo vs. Bivol on May 7 live on DAZN PPV. In addition to the regular commentary, DAZN PPV viewers will be able to choose to “experience Barstool’s take on one of the biggest fights of the year.” Dave Portnoy, Dan ‘Big Cat’ Katz, Robbie Fox, Caleb Pressley, Rone & Large will be calling the fight live from ringside.

The NBA updated the league’s 2022 NBA Play-In Tournament schedule, which will open with Cleveland/Brooklyn on TNT at 7p, followed by the LA Clippers/Minnesota. On April 13, ESPN serves up Charlotte/Atlanta at 7p, and capped with the San Antonio/New Orleans at 9:30. The winner of Game 3 faces the loser of Game 1 on Friday on ESPN, while TNT hosts the Winner of Game 4/Loser of Game 2.

Learn from sport’s marketing masters. Do not miss the CMO Exchange on May 24, a virtual conference featuring the heads of marketing from New Balance, the NFL, NHL, WNBA, FanDuel, NASCAR, UFC, MLS, ESPN, FOX Sports, NBC Sports, Sinclair, Riot Games, LA Galaxy, and many more! Top execs break down the opportunities and challenges on the road ahead. Be sure to get your tickets now by clicking here.

MLB Network announced that play-by-play broadcaster, host and reporter Melanie Newman has joined its on-air roster appearing across its programming. Newman’s MLB Network role is in addition to her broadcast work covering the Baltimore Orioles for MASN and the Orioles Radio Network, which she will again continue this season. As part of her new responsibilities, Newman will regularly do play-by-play for “Friday Night Baseball” on Apple TV+ this season, plus host MLB Network studio programs.

Continuing the baseball theme, the Cardinals’ Opening Day telecast Thursday on Bally Sports Midwest ranked as the most-watched Cardinals home opener in five years. The pregame ceremony and victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates averaged 140,000 households and 246,000 total viewers in the St. Louis market, according to Nielsen. Households were up 24% and viewers up 36% vs. last year’s home opener.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

With the MLB season underway, Twitter once again is bringing back its @MLB emojis. The features will be live through the final pitch of the #WorldSeries, and each hashtag will unlock a custom Twitter emoji for fans.

The Atlanta Braves and Jostens unveiled the Braves 2021 World Series Championship Rings. The pregame on-field ceremony showcased Atlanta Braves executives presenting rings to players, coaches, clubhouse and training staff. “We selected Jostens to be our partner to celebrate this chapter of Braves history as they have the ability to capture a championship journey unlike any other company in the industry,” said Derek Schiller, President & CEO of the Atlanta Braves. “Our 2021 World Series Ring is a masterpiece which beautifully celebrates our incredible season which ended as World Champions. We are also thrilled to have the opportunity to share the championship excitement with our incredible fan base and the special collection Jostens has put together.”

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

PokerStars and FanDuel Sportsbook secured a partnership with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment in which the FanDuel Sportsbook becomes an official sports betting partner, and PokerStars as an official gaming partner. In addition to the use of MLSE team marks in advertising and marketing, FanDuel Sportsbook, PokerStars Casino and PokerStars will be featured prominently throughout Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors games including rink board and on-court signage. The partnership will also allow FanDuel Sportsbook and PokerStars to collaborate on marketing integrations with all of MLSE’s teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, Toronto Argonauts and Toronto Marlies.

The NBA and Fanatics revealed plans to open the first NBA Store in Paris this summer. The new store will be operated by retail brand Lids and located at 20 Boulevard Saint-Michel in Paris’s Latin Quarter, becoming the third NBA Store in Europe, joining London and Milan. The store will also feature exclusive NBA Paris-branded apparel and novelties as well as a customization area where fans can personalize NBA jerseys and hats for all 30 NBA teams.

ESPORTS

FaZe Clan named RESPAWN as the organization’s official gaming chair partner. The new collaboration will outfit FaZe Clan’s roster of content creators and esports pros with RESPAWN’S premium gaming chairs. Additionally, a new set of FaZe Clan x RESPAWN branded chairs, which will come in various colorways and three different price points, will be available for purchase later this year. “RESPAWN is excited to partner with FaZe Clan, bringing together two powerhouses in the gaming community,” says Rachael Boone, President of OFM, Inc. (parent company of RESPAWN). “This partnership highlights the best of gaming performance by uniting ergonomic furniture expertise with top-level gamers and creators – resulting in meaningful content and a performance-driven product to meet the needs of the gaming community.”

Misfits Gaming Group extended its partnership with ROG, which will continue to provide Misfits’ teams and content creators with PCs, laptops, and accessories. Misfits Gaming will also sport ROG branding on team jerseys. The two companies first partnered in early 2021.

Tencent is getting ready to shut down its esports-driven streaming platform Egame. The company has also stated that user data will be deleted in accordance with China’s Personal Information Protection Law.

CYNOPSIS SPORTS: CMO EXCHANGE 2022

Tuesday, May 24, 2022, 1:00pm ET

New Balance, NASCAR, UFC, NHL, WNBA, NFL, ESPN, FOX SPORTS..need we say more?

Check out the speaker line-up and join us!

ON THIS DAY in
1962: The New York Mets debut.

IN THE KNOW
How many stages are there now in the Tour de France? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Who is the only Masters competitor to record three eagles in one round? Answer Dustin Johnson. Kudos: Michael Ritz-Lenox Advisors/NY; Kathi Gillin-Comcast/Philadelphia; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton Louis Lewow-FITE/Atlanta; Joe Lyons-ESPN/Dallas; David Westberg-SAG•AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA

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LOCAL SALES MANAGER >>
NEXSTAR MEDIA GROUP/ INDIANAPOLIS:
Provides leadership for the broadcast/digital sales teams. Makes decisions regarding hiring, evaluation, promotion, and termination of account executives and sales assistants. Develops and executes sales strategies which result in exceeding revenue targets in local, new business and digital revenue. Minimum five years of media sales experience. Full info HERE (4/20)

THE DIRECTOR OF SALES
CIRCLE MEDIA
REMOTE (PREFER NYC, CHICAGO, NASHVILLE)

Responsible for selling general advertising of our Linear network for year over year growth of our advertising sales projections. Source, create, and maintain relationships, as well as execute contracts for our Linear/Cable/VOD networks. Use of qualitative sales packaging and the drive to meet/exceed sales goals is a top priority. Full info HERE (4/19)

DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING
CIRCLE MEDIA
NASHVILLE

Proven track record of success with strategic programming initiatives, preferably experience launching a new linear/VOD network. Lead the programming and scheduling of our network including live events. Create quarterly grids, promo plans, develop stunts, graphic and secondary event requests and review all on air plans for the network. Full info HERE (4/19)

TRAFFIC BILLING COORDINATOR
CIRCLE MEDIA
NASHVILLE

This position will serve as a conduit between Linear Sales, Traffic and the Accounting Department. Previous invoicing experience is a must, and the ability to work in a fast pace environment. Strong communication skills via phone and email are both required. Full info HERE (4/19)

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER, ON-AIR PROMOTIONS
YES NETWORK
STAMFORD, CT

Ideation for scripts, pitches, brainstorming sessions, and 360-degree marketing campaigns. Overseeing all aspects of assigned projects including screening footage, acquiring media assets, writing scripts, VO sessions, and edit sessions. Minimum 2-3 years of experience in assisting/writing/producing for sports television networks or media companies. Full info HERE (4/18)

SOFTWARE ENGINEERING MANAGER, COMMERCE
A+E NETWORKS
NYC or REMOTE

Engineering team manager to develop and launch high quality services in support of web, mobile, and television products. 5+ years of technology experience developing and maintaining APIs and backend services with min 1 year of leadership. Strong knowledge of JavaScript, React and Node. JS. Full info HERE (4/18)

DAILY ENTERTAINMENT VIDEO PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
theGrio
LOS ANGELES

Experienced in research, pitching ideas, reporting, and coordinating logistics for field production are major responsibilities. Pull video assets including SOTs and Vos, clear footage and provide breaking news support. Manage archives, have a firm understanding of rights and clearances, and thoroughly track sources of material for licensing. Full info HERE (4/17)

COPY EDITOR
theGrio
ATLANTA, LA, NYC, WASHINGTON DC

Read text for grammatical, typographical and factual errors, upholding the highest level of grammar, usage and accuracy. Confirm final drafts are free of errors. Ensure the writing is easy to read and fits the editorial style of the platform. Confirm theGrio’s original news stories and aggregated stories are accurate and meet journalism standards. Full info HERE (4/17)

ASSIGNMENT EDITOR
theGrio
ATLANTA, WASHINGTON DC, LA, NYC

Manage the assignment and publishing of stories about Black people across America. We are seeking a reliable self-starter to work alongside a shift-based team to manage stories that are accurate, authoritative, and indispensable. Experience in journalism and an ability to work in a breaking news environment is required. Full info HERE (4/17)

DAILY AGGREGATION WRITER
theGrio
ATLANTA

Write accurate aggregations of about six to eight 400-600 word stories daily significant news stories. Craft original, engaging headlines, and ledes that arrest and audience. Source appropriately licensed photos to accompany stories, government agencies, Associated Press, Getty, Adobe Stock, public domain repositories, and other institutions. Full info HERE (4/17)

DAILY NEWS WRITER
theGrio
ATLANTA

Write a daily story with original reporting each day covering the Black experience domestically. Stay up to date on relevant trends, stories and experiences that impact Black Americans. Coordinate story parameters with Managing Editor. Strong knowledge of current events. Research and craft stories in a way that resonates with our audiences. Full info HERE (4/17)

LINE EDITOR
theGrio
ATLANTA, WASHINGTON DC, LOS ANGELES, OR NEW YORK

Veteran journalist who has leveraged skills acquired as a print or digital beat or enterprise reporter to transform into a seasoned news editor. Support the well-being, rights, livelihood, protection, joy, financial security, and success of Black people. Coach writers, edit aggregated and original copy, and provide options for sourcing images. Full info HERE (4/17)

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER
theGrio
ATLANTA, WASHINGTON DC, LOS ANGELES OR NEW YORK

Cover stories about Black people across America. Develop and research investigative stories, with a particular emphasis on data reporting. Creative self-starter to break journalism stories that are accurate, authoritative, and indispensable. Experience in investigative reporting and an ability to work in a breaking news environment is required. Full info HERE (4/17)

AD OPERATIONS MANAGER >>
FUSE MEDIA INC/GLENDALE, CA:
Work with a cross functional team spanning sales, business intelligence, and digital operations to traffic direct sales and programmatic digital advertising campaigns in a timely manner to ensure client expectations are exceeded. 3+ years’ experience in Data Analysis/Ad Operations/Media Buying in the digital advertising industry. Full info HERE (4/16)

VP, BRAND MARKETING
CROWN MEDIA FAMILY NETWORKS

LA, CA

Manage strategy and execution of 360º consumer marketing campaigns for Crown Media’s linear and SVOD initiatives. Will collaborate cross functionally and manage external media, creative & promotional agencies while leading internal team. Bachelor’s Degree in related field, 12+ yrs marketing experience within entertainment required. Full info HERE (4/16)

VP, LEARNING& DEVELOPMENT, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION
CROWN MEDIA FAMILY NETWORKS

LA, CA

Accountable for oversight, development and execution of highly impactful D&I strategic initiatives, as well as identifying individual, group and organizational development needs; the VP is instrumental in aligning enterprise training and D&I partnership opportunities with business strategies and cultural initiatives. Full info HERE (4/16)

SALES DEVELOPMENT REPRESENTATIVE >>
MEDIAOCEAN/NYC, CHICAGO: Find and screen potential customers and have a strong understanding of the sales process, excelling at researching leads, starting new relationships, and setting our sales team up for success. Have the ability to showcase our offerings in a compelling way. 1-3 years of professional work experience preferred. Full info HERE (4/15)

ACCOUNT MANAGER FOR CLIENT SERVICES – DEAL MAKER >>
MEDIAOCEAN/NYC/EAST COAST: Execute a coordinated account plan for driving growth and adoption of Mediaocean solutions. Maintain a regular cadence of on-site visits to consult end users, identify and address business needs and challenges. Act as a trusted advisor and partner with customer contacts. 3+ years of experience in client services or consulting. Full info HERE (4/15)

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