04/27/22: Emmert to step down

Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday April 27, 2022

Amid big changes to the NCAA, NCAA president Mark Emmert will step down from the role once his replacement is selected and in place or on June 30, 2023. The org announced the decision on Tuesday, noting that Emmert and the NCAA board of governors reached a mutual agreement for him to step aside. “Throughout my tenure I’ve emphasized the need to focus on the experience and priorities of student-athletes,” Emmert said in a statement. “I am extremely proud of the work of the Association over the last 12 years and especially pleased with the hard work and dedication of the national office staff here in Indianapolis.”

Turner Sports reports that the NHL on TNT’s rookie season on the network saw gains of 29% over the 2021-21 NHL regular season and up 24% over 2019-20. Female viewership, meanwhile, grew 54%. The ripple effect also saw Bleacher Report’s’ B/R Open Ice score an uptick of 46% on social since Jan 1.

In addition, the first week of the NBA Playoffs saw TNT average 3.3 million viewers during the first week of 2022 NBA Playoffs game coverage marking the best since 2018, and up 18% vs. 2021 and +78% vs. 2020. NBA TV saw its most viewed NBA Playoffs coverage since 2014 through four games with an average of 552,000 and up38% vs. last year’s comparable coverage.


In talent news, CBS Sports revealed the announce team for the 2022 Superstar Racing Experience season, which will return for six consecutive Saturday nights in primetime beginning June 18 at 80 on CBS & Paramount+. Allen Bestwick, Matt Yocum and Lindsay Czarniak return and work all six races on the SRX schedule, Willy T. Ribbs, who competed last season as a driver, will make the transition to analyst for all six races this year and serve as a roaming analyst for five races and be in the booth as a driver analyst for the July 2 race at Stafford Motor Speedway. Conor Daly will make his SRX debut and call three races as a driver analyst.

NBC Sports’ Ahmed Fareed was tapped to host MLB Sunday Leadoff, Peacock’s upcoming Sunday morning Major League Baseball package. Beginning on May 8 with White Sox/Red Sox at 11:30a. On the weekend of May 7-8, Fareed will broadcast from both Churchill Downs and Fenway Park, as he will also work on NBC Sports’ coverage of the 148th Kentucky Derby on May 7.

Former Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Rolando Cantú is joining Telemundo Deportes as new lead NFL analyst for Sunday Night Football. Cantú will make his debut this week in Telemundo Deportes’ multiplatform coverage of the 2022 NFL Draft from Las Vegas starting Thursday. “We are thrilled to welcome Rolando Cantú to the team and excited to work with him to further enhance the NFL fan experience for our audiences,” said Eli Velazquez, EVP Sports, Telemundo Enterprises. “This announcement comes on the heels of our historic broadcast of Super Bowl LVI, and we’re proud to add the best Hispanic NFL analyst in Spanish-language media to our NFL offering and continue our efforts and commitment to serving the passionate and vibrant Hispanic community.”

Bleacher Report’s B/R Gridiron delivers live stream coverage of the 2022 NFL Draft on Thursday, at 8p, Friday at 6:50p and Saturday at noon on the B/R app and Bleacher Report YouTube channel. Adam Lefkoe will return as host with B/R Gridiron draft expert Connor Rogers. They will be joined by Jason Kelce and Richard Sherman as positional experts for the first two days along with Amon-Ra St. Brown. College football analyst Michael Felder will offer insights on all prospects for all three days of the draft, with Torry Holt joining Felder and Rogers on Saturday to cover the later rounds of the draft.

The playoff bracket has been set for the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup which will feature top seed, OL Reign will face the Washington Spirit, while the Kansas City Current take on the North Carolina Courage. Both matches are scheduled for May 4. CBS Sports Network carries the Spirit/Reign matchup at 8p, with paramount+ on deck for the Current/Courage. The winner of each semifinal match will advance to the 2022 Challenge Cup final, slated for May 7 on CBS and Paramount+. Additionally, all three matches will be streamed internationally on Twitch.

Spotify announced new live audio series from former ESPN co-host, Trey Wingo, and FOX Sports NFL analyst, Mark Schlereth, as they break down the latest NFL news and updates on Spotify’s “Upon Further Review.” In addition, Fox Sports’ Charissa takes on Spotify’s “We’re Good Here” to discuss her life, career and experiences.

LEARFIELD Studios detailed plans to launch “a multitude of distinct, premium content for university partners.” Two of those original productions have now launched – The Blueprint (with University of Kansas) and Granted (debut episode with University of Toledo). Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and UConn also are working with LEARFIELD Studios on the initiative. “The ways in which college fans engage with their universities and consume content around athletics is changing drastically, and we intend to help our school partners and student-athletes maximize their opportunities in this new landscape,” said LEARFIELD CEO Cole Gahagan. “Our experienced LEARFIELD Studios team is extremely creative with superb connections throughout media and entertainment. And when paired with our unrivaled fan data infrastructure, we’re beyond bullish on the prospect of bolstering fan engagement and creating meaningful revenue opportunities.”

The 2022 Minto US OPEN Pickleball Championships powered by Margaritaville runs through April 30 in Naples, Florida, with the men’s and women’s pro finals broadcast live and exclusively on CBS Sports Network on Saturday from 7-9p. m ET. PickleballChannel.com will stream all the action globally, each day from 2-7p. pm ET for a total of 31 hours. The finals will also be available outside the United States Drew Fellios, Melissa McCurley and Rusty Howes will provide commentary on Saturday for CBSSN and from Wednesday-Friday on Pickleball Channel.

The Premier Lacrosse League announced that the 2022 College Draft fueled by Gatorade will air live on May 10 at 8p on ESPNU and will be simulcast digitally on ESPN+. Chris Cotter will host the College Draft, which will originate from Studio E in ESPN Digital Center 1, and will be joined by ESPN lacrosse analysts Paul Carcaterra and Ryan Boyle.

SiriusXM and I Am Athlete, the media network founded by former NFL All-Pro receiver Brandon Marshall, are teaming up in a new expansive content deal that includes a live nightly radio show that will air nationwide on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio and debut today with I Am Athlete Tonight running live every weekday from 7-9p. Former NFL defensive end Leger Douzable will lead a cast of rotating co-hosts that will feature Marshall, LeSean McCoy, Brandon Flowers and Adam “Pacman” Jones, Antoine Walker, and more.


Wednesday, May 4, 12PM ET

Have you requested your pass yet? You really don’t want to miss this chance to learn from the experts how to activate your brand to a highly-prized fanbase watching and engaging in esports and gaming.



The PGA TOUR and Dream Finders Homes locked in a multi-year partnership naming Dream Finders Homes the “Official Home Builder of the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions” through 2026. Dream Finders Homes will activate by having a presence in programming throughout PGA TOUR social and digital properties, including hosting a “Moving Day” campaign on Instagram. Dream Finders Homes will also organize hospitality events for key constituents and guests at select PGA TOUR events, host corporate golf outings and develop partnerships with TOUR professionals. “We are excited to have Dream Finders Homes as the first home builder to be an Official Marketing Partner at the PGA TOUR,” said Brian Oliver, PGA TOUR Executive Vice President Marketing & Corporate Partnerships. “We’re confident that the PGA TOUR platform will provide an excellent backdrop to showcase the Dream Finders Homes brand through our players, media and tournaments.”

The NFL Draft will see the 18th annual ‘Run Rich Run’ campaign continue to raise awareness and support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as host Rich Eisen dons his suit and tie to run a 40-yard dash. Over the past seven years, Eisen’s annual 40-yard dash has blossomed into a premier philanthropic fundraising event benefiting the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, with last year’s campaign raising a record $1.7 million. Eisen’s 40-yard dash, sponsored by Zebra Technologies, will air during NFL Network’s coverage of Rounds 4-7 of the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas on Saturday at noon.

Speaking of the NFL Draft, Aflac unveiled, “Prime Prospects” with Coach Deion “Prime” Sanders, to “address and close the growing gap between the number of qualified players at HBCUs ready to compete at the professional level and the number of athletes drafted.” As part of the campaign, Aflac also revealed a new advertisement, named “Believe,” that features Coach Prime and will air during the event.

BMW of North America announced that it will be the first-ever official luxury automotive partner of the Kentucky Derby, taking place from May 5-7. BMW will have a large on-site footprint including an interactive product display located at the main entrance of Churchill Downs Racetrack while VIP and celebrity guests of the Kentucky Derby and Oaks will enter via a BMW immersive red carpet experience that features the BMW X7 Sports Activity Vehicle. On Derby Day, BMW will present the American Turf Stakes race, including brand exposure across various moments such as the horse saddle towels, pony rider jackets, and finish line, winner’s circle and starting gate signage.

The Pac-12 announced that Zayo Group, a global provider of communications infrastructure, has been added as an official partner of the Conference and its three flagship championship events, the Pac-12 Football Championship Game, presented by 76, and the Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments, presented by New York Life. Zayo will serve as presenting sponsor of Yogi Roth’s ‘THE IT FACTORY,’ a weekly series on Pac-12 Insider in addition to serving as the presenting sponsor of all interviews on Pac-12 Networks, including celebratory postgame interviews and feature sit-downs.

In celebration of Earth Day, the National Hockey League Players’ Association and NHL announced the winners of the second annual Future Goals Virtual Science Fair presented by SAP. The STEM-based Virtual Science Fair, which is the first and only competition of its kind among major professional sports leagues, identified environmental sustainability as this year’s theme. “We’d like to congratulate the winners of this year’s Virtual Science Fair for their creative and forward-looking projects that emphasize the importance of sustainability,” said Amy Schulz, Sr. Director for SAP Sponsorships. “We’re excited to see how these donations will support and advance future sustainability projects for the winners’ schools, while making a tangible impact in our local communities.”

PBR Canada announced the addition of Lammle’s Western Wear as the Official Western Wear Retail Partner of the elite Cup Series, presented by Wrangler, for the 2022 and 2023 seasons where they will co-sponsor PBR Canada’s bullfighters, alongside Wrangler. The brand will also be featured during each event’s Wrangler Pro Perspective bullfighter spotlight during the TSN telecasts.

The ESPYS are tapping Backstage Creations for a second year to host their celebrity & athlete suite at the annual awards show. The company will provide brand activation and hospitality opportunities in their “Retreat.” Last year’s suite featured partnerships with corporate brands like Nautica Swim and Stanley 1913 as well as highlighting smaller cause forward brands like Genusee Eyewear.


FanDuel Group announced a multi-year partnership renewal to become An Official Sports Betting Partner of the New York Yankees. Under the terms of the agreement, FanDuel will be permitted use of New York Yankees’ marks. Additionally, FanDuel will have premium VIP hospitality accommodations at Yankee Stadium along with integrated FanDuel signage in right-field and rotational signage behind home plate during television broadcasts.

PlayOn! Sports, a high school sports media and technology company, and GoFan, a digital ticketing company in the high school sports market, have entered into a definitive merger agreement. KKR, which joined Panoramic Ventures as an investor in PlayOn! earlier this year, is making an additional investment from its North America Fund XIII fund to support the strategic combination.

STN Video inked a multi-year extension of their exclusive video content distribution agreement with Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball. In addition to U.S. and Canadian publishers, the renewal expands STN’s video distribution territory to include publishers in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. STN will also have highlights and other video for all MiLB teams.


ESL Gaming and Nielsen announced the expansion of their business relationship for an additional three years. The agreement enables ESL Gaming to regularly report monetary valuations to brand partners and advertisers based on Nielsen’s Quality Index Media methodology. The scope of the partnership has been expanded to track more events per year and more broadcasts per platform and channel. Covering 17 events, including the ESL Pro Tour in CS:GO and ESL Gaming’s Dota 2 properties, as well as ESL Gaming’s complete mobile esports ecosystem, the collaboration focuses on four main areas: Media & Sponsor Valuation; Community & Fan Analytics; Utilizing standardized metrics; and Mobile gaming & esports.

In addition, ESL Gaming and Gameloft for brands are launching an esports competition for Snapdragon Elite Gaming & Pagani Automobili in Asphalt 9: Legends, the latest game in the arcade racing franchise. iOS & Android players are now able to race their way through the Snapdragon® Pro Series esports competition for a chance to compete in the Finals. The best players from North America, Europe, the Middle East & North Africa will battle it out during the regional grand finals that begin in late May.

Esports tournament organizer BLAST Premier announced that it has started the host city selection process for the 2023 season, following last week’s announcement on the Spring Final returning to Lisbon’s Altice Arena in June. Running from April-August 2022, BLAST “will begin working with interested parties to find suitable host city locations and partners to deliver a number of event opportunities across their global tournament circuit in 2023.” As part of the process, BLAST will host engaging workshops on the benefits of hosting an esports event, create opportunities for behind-the-scenes experiences at BLAST Premier live events (including the Spring Final in Lisbon) and offer opportunities to meet the BLAST team in-person.

Air Force Gaming rolled out plans for the Armed Forces Sports Championship featuring Halo: Infinite as part of FORCECON, a massive military gaming and tech event celebrating the intersection of gaming, technology, innovation, education and the United States Armed Forces. FORCECON will take place over Memorial Day weekend at the new Tech Port Center + Arena, and ASM Global managed facility located in San Antonio, features three live esports competitions with the Armed Forces Sports Championship on May 28.

Unleashed Brands picked up youth esports organization XP League and will now serve as the parent company of the league. XP League currently hosts tournaments in Fortnite, Rocket League, and VALORANT.


Jolene Mizzone announced the launch of a newly created company, Fighters First Management and will lead as President of Boxing Operations. “I want to educate fighters as much as possible on the business aspects of boxing,” said Mizzone. “I plan to work hand in hand with our fighters and their teams. As their manager, I am also an educator. I can give them the tools they need to make smarter long-term decisions about their careers to flourish and live well after giving their all to the sport we love.”


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