The Sport Management Advisory Council
The Sport Management (SPM) Advisory Council is comprised of a “Who’s Who in Sports.” This esteemed group of sport industry professionals and practitioners provides an inner circle of advisors and supporters for the Department of Sport Management. The council provides input and guidance for short- and long-term goals, student internships, employment opportunities, curriculum development and classroom instruction. It champions the program to prospective supporters, students, business colleagues, and the community.
“To be the preeminent student-centered experiential learning, scholarship and teaching institution, by forming a unique partnership among students, faculty, high-profile industry leaders and staff, all collaborating to maximize academic, professional and personal growth.”
- Brandon Steiner, Advisory Council Chairman; Founder, The Steiner Agency and CollectibleXchange
- David B. Falk, Chair Emeritus; Founder, Falk Associates Management Enterprises (FAME)
Advisory Council Members
- Ronald C. Bernard, Senior Advisor, Alvarez & Marsal; President, LWB Consulting
- Russ Brandon, President, XFL
- Nick Carparelli, Executive Director, Bowl Season
- Kelly Downing, Marketing Consultant
- Michael Duda, Co-Founder/Managing Partner, Bullish Inc.
- Patti Kleinman-Fallick, Managing Director, Broadcast Operations, USTA
- Shawn Garrity, Chief Executive Officer, Circle TPR
- Mark Geddis, President and CEO, Geddis Holdings, Inc.
- Pamela Hollander, Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Client Success, TSMGI
- Jasmine Jordan-Christmas, Sports Marketing Field Representative, Nike, Inc.
- Cliff Kaplan, Chairman, Equity Sports Partners
- David Kleinhandler, President and Chief Executive Officer, Kleinhandler Corporation; Founder, Blackridge Capital
- Robert L. Konrad, Chairman, Alterna Financial
- Christopher J. Lencheski, Chairman, Phoenicia Sport and Entertainment; Chief Executive Officer, Winning Streak Sports
- David Levy, Co-CEO and Founder, Horizon Sports & Experiences
- Deidra Maddock, Vice President of Sports Brand Solutions, Disney Advertising
- Sandy Montag, President, The Montag Group
- Laurie Orlando, Senior Vice President, Talent Strategy, CBS News
- Michael J. Patent, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Culture Group
- Kevin Rochlitz, Senior Vice President/Chief Sales Officer, Baltimore Ravens
- Jeffrey Rubin, Founder and CEO, Sidearm Sports
- Mike Tirico, Play-By-Play Commentator, Anchor, NBC Sports
- John Wildhack, Director of Athletics, Syracuse University
- Roland Williams, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Brown Diamond Holdings
- Ben C. Sutton Jr., Founder and Chairman, Teall Investments
- Kathrine Switzer, President of Marathon Woman & AtAlanta Sports Promotions, Inc.
- Michael Wohl, President, Coral Rock Development Group
Advisory Council Chairman
Founder, The Steiner Agency and CollectibleXchange
Brandon Steiner served as founder and chairman of Steiner Sports Marketing and Memorabilia for more than 30 years. Considered a sports marketing guru, he received Syracuse University’s highest alumni honor, The Arents Award, in October 2015, and served as Falk College’s Convocation speaker in May 2019. Steiner launched two new companies, The Steiner Agency, and CollectibleXchange in late 2019.
Steiner is the author of three books: “The Business Playbook” (2003), “You Gotta Have Balls: How a Kid From Brooklyn Started From Scratch, Bought Yankees Stadium and Built a Sports Empire” (September 2012) and “Living on Purpose: Stories about Faith, Fortune, and Fitness That Will Lead You to an Extraordinary Life” (December 2018). During his book tours, he has lectured at some of the top business schools in the country, including The Harvard Business School, The Kellogg School of Business, Columbia and Yale. His motivational speaking engagements have put him in front of Fortune 500 companies ranging from hotel chains to real estate companies, and he is often the featured speaker at trade conventions.
He is an expert commentator on all issues involving sports and is regularly featured on national news networks including CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN and in newspapers such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Since 2006, Steiner has been the host of “Memories of the Game” on the YES Network
In his career, Steiner cultivated partnerships with the Dallas Cowboys and Boston Red Sox and three universities: Alabama, Notre Dame and Syracuse. Steiner and Steiner Sports are perhaps best known for reaching an agreement with the New York Yankees in 2009 to sell a variety of memorabilia from the old Yankee Stadium including seats, signs, and lockers.
He devotes his time to charities including Family Services of Westchester, which helps to provide social and mental health services to strengthen families, children and individuals, and sits on the board of Camp Sussex (a camp for underprivileged children).
David B. Falk
Founder, Falk Associates Management Enterprises (FAME)
David Falk, the founder of Falk Associates Management Enterprises (FAME), has long been recognized as one of the sports industry’s leading figures and most talented innovators. During a 40 year career, he has represented the top players in NBA history and negotiated record-breaking contracts for his clients, both on and off the court. His vision and ability to read the changing landscape helped to shape the evolution of the business of sports over the past 40 years.
He began his career representing professional athletes with ProServ in 1974, rising to Vice Chairman of the company. He left ProServ in 1992 and established FAME to provide specialized and personal representation services to the company’s elite clientele of NBA superstars. During his career, Falk has represented more NBA first-round draft selections, lottery picks, Rookies-of-the-Year, and All-Stars than anyone else in the athlete management business.
Falk negotiated the highest contracts in NBA league history for Patrick Ewing (New York Knicks) in 1985 and Danny Ferry (Cleveland Cavaliers) in 1990. He negotiated professional sports’ first $100 million contract in 1996 for Alonzo Mourning as part of an unprecedented free agency period in which FAME changed the entire salary structure of the NBA, negotiating over $400 million in contracts for its free agent clients in a six-day period. He negotiated Michael Jordan’s one-year $30 million contract in 1996, the highest salary in NBA history at that time. Besides Jordan, Falk represented more than 100 other NBA players, and is generally considered to be the most influential player agent the NBA has seen.
Falk has also been credited as sports marketing’s leading innovator. In 1985, he negotiated Jordan’s ground-breaking deal with Nike, which is the most successful endorsement relationship in history, and in the process coined the nickname “Air Jordan.” He also negotiated notable shoe endorsement contracts for James Worthy in 1982, Boomer Esiason (who became the first NFL player to endorse the Reebok “Pump”) in 1987, Allen Iverson with Reebok in 1996 and Evan Turner with Li-Ning in 2010.
In 1996, Falk crossed over into entertainment as he executive produced the Ivan Reitman/Warner Bros. feature “Space Jam,” Jordan’s first film, teaming Jordan with the Looney Tunes in an intergalactic basketball showdown. In 2000, he executive produced “Michael Jordan to the Max,” the critically acclaimed large format feature on the NBA legend. Falk also served as Executive Producer of the Emmy-winning “On Hallowed Ground,” a documentary on the history of the Rucker Park Basketball League, which received a gold medal at the 2000 New York Film Festival, as well as “One Love” (2003) and “Young Guns” (2004). Falk was a founding partner, along with Quincy Jones, in New Urban Entertainment (NUE), a multi-faceted entertainment company that focused on the development, production and marketing of entertainment drawn from the urban experience.
In 1998, Falk sold FAME to SFX Entertainment, serving on SFX’s Board of Directors and in the Office of the Chairman. As Chairman of SFX Sports Group, Falk oversaw the acquisition of a dozen sports agencies that enabled SFX to represent approximately 20% of MLB and NBA players. Falk stepped down as Chairman in 2001. In 2007, Falk re-launched FAME as an ultra boutique agency for a small but elite clientele.
Falk is an investor in Consumable, a digital advertising company; Hyperwave, a cooking technology company; Omega, a real estate company; and Urthworx, an interactive content company. In 2009, he released his first book, “The Bald Truth.”
A 1972 honors graduate of Syracuse University with a bachelor of arts in economics, the New York native received a J.D. with honors from the National Law Center at George Washington University in 1975. In 2010, a gift from Rhonda S. Falk ’74 and David B. Falk ’72 established the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics at Syracuse University. In 2015, a gift from the Falks established the Falk Academy of Management and Entrepreneurship at George Washington University Law School.
He is a member of the Board of Trustees for Syracuse University, the Board of Advisors for George Washington University’s National Law Center, as well as the Board of The Congressional Awards; the official charity of Congress.
Ronald C. Bernard
Senior Advisor, Alvarez & Marsal
President, LWB Consulting
Ronald Bernard has over 35 years experience in the entertainment, sports, and media industries in both senior operating and financial capacities. He is currently a Managing Director at Alvarez & Marsal specializing in the media/sports industries. In addition, since January 2003, he has been President of LWB Consulting, where he has worked with a number of private equity investors in identifying and acquiring media properties. LWB Consulting is a media/sports consulting advisory to private equity firms looking to make investments in the sports/entertainment industry.
Bernard previously acted as CEO of Sekani, Inc., a digital media licensing and digital asset management company that he and a number of venture capital firms sold to Corbis, Inc., in 2002.
Bernard was also President of NFL Enterprises, the media business division of the National Football League from 1993-2000. He was responsible for NFL Sunday Ticket, NFL Films, NFL International, and new media ventures. Prior to that, he held a number of senior-level positions at Viacom, Inc., including serving as corporate treasurer, chief financial officer of Showtime Networks Entertainment, and president of Viacom Networks Enterprises.
Bernard is currently on the Board of Directors of Premier Exhibitions, and formerly served on the Board of Atari, Inc. He is a New York CPA, with an MBA from Columbia University Graduate School of Business.
In November 2021, Russ Brandon was named president of the XFL, where he will manage day-to-day operations of the league while directing strategic planning for business and football operations on both the league and team levels.
Brandon is perhaps best known for his 21-year tenure in the front office of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, where he held multiple positions, including chief executive officer. Since leaving the Bills in 2018, Brandon has worked as an adviser to RedBird Capital Partners, which joined entrepreneur Dany Garcia and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to buy the XFL out of bankruptcy in 2020.
Brandon began his career with the Rochester Red Wings in 1990, rising to co-general manager at the organization by the time he left in 1993. After a brief stint with a New York Yankees division called Sports Advertising Network, he joined the front office of the Florida Marlins and was there as part of the 1997 World Series championship team. Brandon joined the Bills in 1997, and was named director of non-football operations in 2006 alongside general manager Marv Levy. Brandon then assumed Levy’s responsibilities as de facto general manager after Levy retired. He was named President of the Bills on January 1, 2013.
Brandon, who left his roles with the Bills, Buffalo Sabres and Pegula Sports and Entertainment in 2018, also works as a consultant in the sport industry. He’s a graduate of St. John Fisher College, where he was a four-year letterman in both football and baseball. He was inducted into the St. John Fisher Sports Hall of Fame.
Executive Director, Bowl Season
Carparelli serves as Executive Director of Bowl Season, an appointment announced in December 2019. Widely respected in college football, he brings nearly 30 years of senior leadership in athletics with proven success in university athletic departments, bowl administration, a conference office, a professional sports franchise and a major athletic apparel brand.
In his role with Bowl Season, Carparelli oversees operations and direction for the organization that will grow to 43 postseason college football games starting with the 2020-21 season. He is responsible for effectively advancing the Bowl Season’s mission and position, supporting bowl game membership, developing new revenue streams, and enhancing industry relationships with the NCAA, conference commissioners, athletic directors, College Football Playoff and bowl staffs.
Carparelli recently spearheaded Bowl Season’s rebrand with the tagline “A Celebration of College Football,” embracing the grand tradition of the bowl system and its enduring value to student-athletes. Prior to joining Bowl Season, Carparelli served as Senior Director of College Sports at Under Armour, leading the brand’s collegiate sports marketing efforts. He managed outfitting partnerships with schools and universities including Notre Dame, Auburn, St. John’s, Navy and South Carolina while working closely with athletes, teams and leagues with the goal of growing the brand, creating demand and driving sales by delivering a powerful go-to-market strategy.
At Under Armour, Carparelli was responsible for creating strategic marketing plans, leading a cross-functional team which included product categories, public relations, media, digital/social media, retail marketing, events, creative and all distribution channel partners. Serving as the point person and lead negotiator, Carparelli helped Under Armour secure several new strategic partnerships including Wisconsin, UC Berkeley and UCLA.
Prior to joining Under Armour, Carparelli worked as Senior Associate Commissioner for the Big East Conference. He served as the conference’s primary football administrator, overseeing operations, officiating, bowl relationships, television and scheduling. Carparelli also served as the conference’s liaison with IMG Sports, the league’s sponsorship and marketing partner. He chaired the NCAA Football Issues Committee, its postseason bowl licensing subcommittee and served as a member of the NCAA Rules Committee. Carparelli led the charge in the creation of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium and in the establishment of the St. Petersburg Bowl now located in Tampa, FL.
Before joining the Big East, Carparelli served as Director of Operations for the New England Patriots during the team’s first Super Bowl championship season. Working with legendary head coach Bill Belichick, Carparelli coordinated team travel, directed the club’s summer training camp, managed player personnel and supervised game-day operations. He also coordinated all aspects of the Patriots’ participation in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Carparelli also served as a football administrator at Notre Dame prior to his time with the Patriots, where he coordinated recruiting efforts, created travel and game-day itineraries and oversaw NCAA football compliance matters. He spent two years as a graduate assistant at Syracuse University, where he helped the Orange to a win against Colorado in the 1993 Fiesta Bowl. Between Notre Dame and Syracuse, Carparelli assisted in the recruitment of several players who moved on to the NFL, including Donovan McNabb and Justin Tuck.
Originally from Cheshire, Connecticut, Carparelli is a 1990 graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a bachelor in mechanical engineering. He obtained his master of business administration from Syracuse in 1994. Carparelli currently resides in Severna Park, Maryland, with his sons Nicholas III and Michael.
Kelly Downing is a marketing veteran with more than 20 years experience working with sports teams, international sporting events, agencies, and brands. Since 2020, Downing has served in a consulting role as the Vice President of Marketing for Uwill, a mission-based EdTech startup that provides teletherapy and wellness solutions to colleges and students.
Downing began her career with the New England Patriots and New England Revolution managing marketing, broadcast production, events, sales, PR, and game-entertainment, among other responsibilities. Downing worked with a committee to create the marketing, sales, and PR blueprint for the Kraft family’s privately financed stadium, Gillette Stadium. The stadium sold out of all ticket, premium seating and sponsorship inventory before opening day. Another of Downing’s successes includes MLS Cup 2002, which earned Major League Soccer a history-making 62,000 fans for the league’s championship match. Downing managed the Patriots TV Network, increasing rights fee revenue 300 percent in four years. She helped to launch Patriots.com Radio, which featured 12 hours daily of unique Patriots programming, and served as a co-host and producer. She also hosted a series of video updates on the new stadium construction progress. For Super Bowl XXXVI, Downing oversaw the team’s events, sponsorship activation and hospitality, earning a NFL World Championship ring following the Patriots’ victory.
Downing spent the next 15 years of her career on the agency side of the business, working with Cone Communications, TrinityOne, Elevate Communications, and state6 in a variety of roles, including Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Operating Officer. She managed agency operations, as well as marketing strategy, designs, events, sales, sponsorships/ partnerships, digital and social media, and public relations for some of the most recognized teams and brands in the world. Brand experience includes Starbucks, Yoplait, Fjallraven, Green Giant, Ocean Spray, and Red Bull. Sports experience includes Boston Red Sox, Liverpool FC, Fenway Sports Management, Millwall FC, Boston Celtics, Richard Childress Racing, Phoenix Thoroughbreds, Alicia Sacramone (Olympic gymnast), Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan (NFL), Isaiah Thomas (NBA), Taylor Twellman (MLS), FIFA Women’s World Cup, CONCACAF Gold Cup, and the Head of the Charles Regatta.
Downing graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor of science in broadcast journalism (1998) and master of science in public relations (1999) from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She serves on the board of the Play Ball Foundation and the Redhawk Foundation, both of which provide financial support for youth sports activities.
Co-Founder/Managing Partner, Bullish Inc.
Michael Duda is the co-founder and managing partner of Bullish, an early-stage consumer investment fund and marketing agency based in New York City.
Bullish is unique in that it combines capital with top-flight brand marketing, strategy and creative talent while being the first investor in the likes of Peloton, Warby Parker, Casper, care\of, Hu Chocolate, Sunday Lawn, Hally Hair and function of beauty. Additionally, the marketing agency works at the highest levels in the industry, building brand identities for emerging DTC businesses to creating Super Bowl campaigns or brand launches for the likes of Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, Nike, Walmart, and Private Equity-owned companies.
Duda has earned recognition from the likes of Business Insider (top early-stage investor, Silicon Alley Top 100), Crain’s 40 Under 40, Modern Retail’s “DTC Investors to Know” and was featured on the critically acclaimed podcast “Invest Like the Best.”
Prior to Bullish, Duda spent 20 years in the world of Madison Avenue, including 13 at Deutsch Inc., where he became the youngest partner in company history. He also served as chief executive officer of the Johannes Leonardo Advertising Firm and founder of Consigliere Brand Capital (rebranded as Bullish in 2015).
Duda is a graduate of St. John Fisher College. When not spending time with his wife and three sons in Connecticut, he can be found arguing with referees at a sporting event or offending someone on Twitter.
Managing Director of Broadcast Operations, United States Tennis Association
Fallick serves as Managing Director of Broadcast Operations for the United States Tennis Association (USTA). She manages the USTA’s broadcast department, including the US Open Domestic Broadcast (ESPN) and Global broadcast partnerships. Fallick also manages the US Open World feed shows and telecasts, as well as other USTA events from the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, Florida.
Prior to the USTA, Fallick was a member of the original team of employees to be part of MLB Network’s record-setting launch on January 1, 2009 in 50 million homes throughout the country. In her role since then, Fallick oversaw the daily integration of MLB Network programming, promotions and commercial content while managing the operational policies and procedures for MLB Network’s and NHL Network’s game, live event, breaking news and special events programming.
Fallick has received seven Sports Emmy Awards for Outstanding Technical Team and Outstanding Daily Studio Show for “MLB Tonight.”
Prior to joining MLB Network, Fallick spent 15 years at the National Hockey League, first working in the league’s Broadcasting Operations department, followed by executive roles with NHL Images and NHL Productions before serving as the NHL’s group Vice President of Media Operations and Planning, where she lead technical and operational executions for the launch of the NHL Network in 2007.
Fallick began her career as a page at NBC, where she went on to spend 10 years working in productions and operations at NBC Sports.
She graduated from Syracuse University in 1978 with a bachelor of science degree in television and radio from the Newhouse School of Public Communications and a bachelor of arts degree in American history.
Fallick lives in Lake Success, NY, with her husband, David, a 1979 Syracuse alumnus, and has three children, Perry (Syracuse ’07), Ashley and Scott.nd Scott.
Chief Executive Officer, Circle
Shawn Garrity has never been far from sports. A graduate of Syracuse University with a degree in Communications, Garrity was a scholarship athlete who excelled as an offensive lineman and received the Maxwell Award for Outstanding Student Athlete Citizen in 1986. After departing Syracuse, he took to a different field – the marketing, branding and promotions business – where his leadership has had enduring success for more than three decades.
In 2013, he founded Circle TPR, a leading guest experience production agency in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he currently serves as the chief executive officer. His career has included the founding of a Las Vegas-based company called Performance Plus. After Performance Plus was sold to Heritage Communications, Garrity served as a division president for their western offices for eight years. Garrity left Heritage to become a partner at Lincoln Studios, which saw success leading the formation of the third largest marketing and communications agency MC2.
Over his career, Shawn has worked with many top global brands, including MGM, Warner Brothers, the NBA, MLB, ESPN, the Orange Bowl Committee, Adobe and NBC.
Garrity has served as a board member on several non-profits in his career and currently serves as an advisory council member for the Department of Sport Management in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics at Syracuse University.
President and CEO,Geddis Holdings, Inc.
Prior to launching Geddis Holdings, Inc., Geddis founded Collegiate Images, LLC, in July 2002, which was later acquired by IMG Worldwide and XOS Technologies, Inc. Collegiate Images serves as the centralized licensing and rights clearance agency that manages the distribution of copyrighted intellectual property content, focusing exclusively on college sports. CI partners with copyright holders to define, claim, protect and manage their intellectual property, allowing each copyright holder to control and monetize those rights in the ever-changing digital landscape. Partners include premier athletic programs, collegiate conferences, bowl games, national and regional sports networks and a multitude of other rights’ holders.
Prior to Collegiate Images, Geddis co-founded Convizion, Inc., a digital content management company, in 2000. He served as chief marketing and business development director for several H. Wayne Huizenga Holdings companies between 1999-2000.
For more than seven years (1992-99), Geddis served in numerous roles with the Florida Marlins Baseball Club. He was the head of communications during the team’s first World Championship in 1997, overseeing the club’s marketing communications, broadcast operations and the coordination of broadcast matters with Major League Baseball. In addition to promotions, he worked with community relations, non-baseball related activities, technology and special projects.
Geddis joined the Marlins in August of 1992 as the club’s publications coordinator and media relations assistant prior to his promotion to assistant director of media relations on September 5, 1993. Geddis was responsible for designing and producing publications during the Marlins’ inaugural season in 1993.
Geddis, a native of Liverpool, NY, served as the media relations director for the Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Club in 1992 and as Sports Information graduate assistant at Syracuse University (1990-92) before joining the Marlins. Prior to his stint in Syracuse, Geddis worked in media relations for the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs (1990) and at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA (1986-89). He also served as an operations assistant for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1991.
His event management experience includes working Super Bowl XXIX and Super Bowl XXXIII, in addition to serving as a media coordinator for the 1990 U.S. Olympic Festival, the 1992 NCAA East Regional Basketball Tournament, the 1993 National League Championship Series, and four MLB All-Star Games.
Geddis received his bachelor of science degree in sports management from Old Dominion University and master in media administration from The Newhouse School at Syracuse University.
Geddis and his wife Vicki, daughters Kasey and Kyra and son Colby reside in Weston, FL.
Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Client Success, TSMGI
Hollander is an innovative marketing executive with a passion for advancing brands through sponsorships and brand engagement.
The Syracuse University graduate joined TSMGI as Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Client Success in Fall of 2021. Prior to her role at TSMGI, she spent 21 years working for Allstate. As Vice President of Consumer Marketing at Allstate, Hollander developed and led the brand’s national sponsorship and engagement marketing portfolio, including title sponsorship of the Allstate Sugar Bowl, College Football Playoff, SEC, Big Ten, Hot Chocolate 5k/15k, MLS, US Soccer, Mexican National Soccer, NCAA, NASCAR, US Olympic Committee and the groundbreaking Allstate Good Hands Field Goal Net program at more than 95 colleges/universities. She is known for generating engaging customer experiences using marketing strategies that resonate with diverse audiences.
Hollander also serves on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center and is the founder of PH Marketing Solutions.
Sports Marketing Field Representative, Nike, Inc.
Syracuse University Falk College Sport Management graduate Jasmine Jordan-Christmas works as a sports marketing professional for Nike’s Jordan brand and a fashion influencer. Since graduating from SU in 2014, she is forging her own legacy in the sports industry and has worked closely with some of the most notable brands in sports.
Syracuse University’s Office of Multicultural Advancement recognized Jordan-Christmas during its 2021 Coming Back Together (CBT) celebration. She received a Young Alumni Awardfor Excellence in Fashion, which is presented to Black and Latino/a alumni during CBT, and serves to recognize the significant civic or career achievements by the alum.
In her current role with Nike as a field representative for sports marketing and basketball, Jordan-Christmas manages athletes who represent the Jordan brand. She makes sure her players have sneakers, apparel, and equipment for the season and coordinates all photo shoots and media appearances. She also designs shoes and apparel for the Jordan Heiress Collection, part of the brand’s Women’s Division. In 2020, she led an initiative to help shape the future of basketball culture for women and young girls by expanding the brand’s WNBA roster to 11 active players, the largest in the brand’s history.
Previously, Jordan-Christmas worked as operations coordinator for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.
Jordan-Christmas is married to former Syracuse University basketball player Rakeem Christmas and is the mother of a son, Rakeem “Keem” Jr. She is an “Our Time Has Come” SU scholarship donor and supports her family’s philanthropic efforts through the Rakeem Christmas Foundation and the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic in Charlotte (NC).
Chairman, Equity Sports Partners
Cliff Kaplan is chairman of Equity Sports Partners (ESP), a boutique sports marketing and media company, based in New York City, and launched in 2013. Previous to founding ESP, Kaplan served for many years as president and CEO of Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment, a leading sports marketing company and a division of Van Wagner Communications. Kaplan has been an industry leader for more than 25 years, holding senior-level management positions across leagues, networks, and sports marketing companies. For the better part of the past 20 years, he has helped launch, grow, and sell several sports marketing businesses and developed a reputation for successfully launching/building/expanding business by driving revenues and creating increased asset value.
In launching ESP, Kaplan’s focus is to evolve the traditional business model employed by sports marketing agencies which focuses largely on representation. Clients and business partners of ESP include WWE Network, IMG Media, Tough Mudder, Anthem Media, the World Series of Fighting and several international sports media organizations.
Prior to launching ESP, Kaplan served as president and CEO of Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment, which he joined in December 2005 when the company that he previously founded, Premiere Sports & Entertainment (PSE), was acquired by VWSE. At VWSE, Kaplan oversaw all aspects of the business, including the development of the business vision, full operational responsibility as well as oversight of investments and acquisitions. He expanded the business from what was initially an organization focused largely on the sale of television visible signage at major sports venues to what is today a diversified sports marketing and media company that now complements its roots in television visible signage with businesses focused on corporate consulting, sponsorship sales, media rights management, content production, and team and venue services.
PSE, a boutique sports marketing and television consultancy, harnessed Kaplan’s sports marketing and media experience working for and on behalf of leagues, networks, teams, and venues by creating an organization that was focused on providing sponsorship/media sales, media rights negotiations and corporate consulting services to those groups. In the span of four years, PSE had assembled a blue-chip roster of top sports property clients, accumulating a strong track record of success in delivering results and growing the businesses of its various clients.
After initially breaking into the industry as a sales executive at Madison Square Garden, Kaplan went on to hold senior executive positions at The Baseball Network, SFX Sports and the NBA. While at the NBA, Kaplan served as senior vice president, where he oversaw the sponsorship sales efforts for the NBA, WNBA, NBDL, and USA Basketball. Additionally, he was responsible for overseeing the advertising sales and management of the NBA’s television assets, serving as the key liaison for the league with its domestic television partners.
Kaplan, a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communications, sits on the Advisory Council for the University’s sport management department. He is married with three children and resides in West Harrison, NY, in Westchester County.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Kleinhandler Corporation; Founder, Blackridge Capital
As a 35-year entrepreneur and investor, David Kleinhandler rose from humble beginnings to become a preeminent name in life insurance planning and wealth preservation. Kleinhandler founded Blackridge Capital in 2010 to create an investment vehicle for private investments and the creation of new companies in the venture, fintech, and insurtech space. His latest investment endeavor, Nayya Health, strives to solve the most complex problem of health insurance and ancillary benefits by using technology to solve employers and employee pain points.
Kleinhandler supports a number of philanthropic organizations, including Carmelo Anthony-sponsored “Courts 4 Kids,” the Martin Luther King Foundation, and his own David Kleinhandler’s Life Skills, a financial literacy initiative for student-athletes at Syracuse University. He serves as a member of the board of the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis and is also a proud owner of Hapoel Jerusalem Basketball Club and the Omaha Stormchasers.
A graduate of Syracuse University, Kleinhandler began his career on Wall Street and then moved to Equitable Insurance, where he was recognized as a leader and top producer. From there, he went on to run a successful and prominent agency for AIG. In 1997, Kleinhandler launched his first venture, Quotemaster USA, with a mission to provide quality life insurance solutions to select professionals nationwide. He has served as President and CEO of the Kleinhandler Corporation since 1996.
In April 2022, Kleinhandler and his family were honored by the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of New York for their leadership, commitment and generosity to the community.
Whether finding creative solutions in the office or within the community, Kleinhandler is passionate about making a difference by helping others. Constant growth, prioritization of wellbeing, mindful action, and compassionate giving are the values with which he leads in business.
Robert L. Konrad
Chairman, Alterna Financial
Robert Konrad is the Chairman of Alterna Financial, a Florida-based private investment management firm that is the sole or majority owner of several financial services businesses, including Socius Family Office, Alterna Equity Partners, and Alterna Tax Asset Group. Alterna, which was founded in 2006 by Konrad, invests in operating businesses that oversee more than $1 billion in assets across funds, portfolio companies and co-investments.
Konrad, a Syracuse University graduate, played for the Orange football team from 1995-98, serving as captain for three Big East champion teams.
He began his career in the financial services industry during his career in the NFL. He served as a long-time team representative for the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) for the Miami Dolphins. He also served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Florida State Board of Administration’s Investment Advisory Council. The Florida Retirement System (FRS) Pension Plan is the fourth-largest public retirement plan in the U.S. and comprises roughly three-quarters of total assets under SBA management. The Investment Council provides independent oversight of SBA’s funds and major investments responsibilities, ranging from the Florida Retirement System programs to the Florida Growth Fund. Konrad served as chairman of the IAC in 2011.
Konrad serves on the board for the Miami Dolphins Foundation, and is a member of the Palm Beach Chapter of the Young Professionals Organization. He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 1999, where he played until 2004.
Christopher J. Lencheski
Chairman, Phoenicia Sport and Entertainment
Chief Executive Officer, Winning Streak Sports
Chris Lencheski has worked in the global sports and entertainment landscape for more than 30 years.
Prior to Phoenicia Sport and Entertainment and Winning Streak Sports, he worked with MP & Silva and served as chairman of the board of managers and chief executive officer for IRG Sports + Entertainment (IRGSE). Lencheski authored industry-setting standards and practice guidelines followed by major entities from network and cable television groups to Fortune 500 companies. He served as Global Commercial Partnerships Director and Senior Advisor to the Board at MP & Silva, and as Vice Chairman and CEO of IRG Sports + Entertainment, a TPG specialty lending company, encompassing more than 1,150 motorsports, live entertainment and corporate events annually at their venues and within their global racing series. Lencheski orchestrated the return of IRG motorsports sanctioning bodies after a 19-year absence to global television and the development of a digital platform with the ESPN family of networks.
Prior to IRGSE, Lencheski was President of Comcast-Spectators’ subsidiary Front Row Marketing and Analytics (FRMS), the commercial rights, sponsorship and analytics firm inside the greater Comcast ecosystem of stadiums, arenas, teams and properties. FRMS was acquired by Learfield Sports in 2015. While at FRMS, his work included collaborations with the Americas’ Cup, English Premier League, the Olympics, Formula One and World Cup projects, as well as a host of international and national properties from every major league to governing bodies.
Lencheski was a multiple team owner in the NASCAR Sprint and Nationwide Series, as well as owner of International Hockey League franchise the Quad City Mallards, an affiliate of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.
Lencheski is a graduate of Syracuse University and Harvard Business School. He serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia University and is a member of the Board of Directors of Winning Streak, a WAFRA Partners Company in the global and major league sports and entertainment licensing and hard goods industry.
Co-CEO and Founder, Horizon Sports & Experiences
Long regarded as one of the media industry’s most influential executives, Levy currently serves as the co-CEO and founder of Horizon Sports & Experiences (HS&E).
HS&E has a core focus on IP creation, and monetization, strategic advisory and consulting media rights, sponsorships, sales and experiential. In March 2021, Levy was appointed Chairman of data firm Genius Sports which went public in April of 2021. In addition, he also joined Arctos Partners (a fund focused on passive investments on professional sports teams) and Raine as a Senior Advisor. Prior to HS&E, Levy served as President of Turner, offering content and advertising solutions to some of the most valuable brands in the world to audiences in sports, entertainment, news and children’s programming.
In his capacity as President, Levy oversaw Turner’s leading portfolio of domestic entertainment, sports, kids and young adult networks and businesses, including TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Bleacher Report and Turner Sports. He also led Turner’s two domestic revenue divisions – ad sales and distribution. During his 30-year tenure at Turner, Levy assumed executive oversight for increased investment in original premium content across the portfolio, and in 2018, Turner programming was nominated for 33 Emmy Awards.
Levy’s Turner Sports accomplishments were many since assuming leadership of the division in 2003. He was instrumental in deepening and expanding Turner’s media rights and defining the division via its association with premium sports content, brands and events, including the NBA, Major League Baseball and the PGA Tour. He negotiated a variety of multi-faceted agreements, each representing a significant change extending far beyond traditional television rights. In 2010, Levy orchestrated a landmark NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball deal, partnering with CBS for multi-media rights, including exclusive televised rights to the 2014 Final Four and National Championship Game in 2016. This marked the first time in the event’s history that these key games were televised by a cable network. In 2017, under Levy’s guidance, Turner added to its portfolio of premium sports properties by acquiring rights to UEFA, including UEFA Champions League, Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup. All were launched on B/R Live, the company’s direct to consumer offering.
Levy also led a significant expansion in digital media and new businesses designed to grow Turner’s portfolio. In 2012, he spearheaded Turner’s efforts in acquiring the Bleacher Report, a leading online multi-sport destination. In 2015, Turner purchased a majority stake in streaming video pioneer iStreamPlanet, expanding capabilities to offer live events and cultivate future digital opportunities. Adding to the mix, in 2016, Turner launched ELEAGUE, a new professional esports league created in partnership with WME/IMG, and FilmStruck, the company’s first U.S. domestic subscription video-ondemand (SVOD) service. It quickly followed in 2017 with Boomerang, its second SVOD offering. Additionally, David supported strategic investments in Refinery29 and Mashable, and championed new business alliances with Snapchat and Twitter.
Levy has been the recipient of multiple awards for his professional achievement, including being elected to the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 2012 and being named in 2018 by Sports Business Journal as one of the most influential executives over the past 20 years. In 2016, JDRF, the leading research and advocacy organization funding type 1 diabetes, honored Levy and his wife Niki, with the organization’s annual Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Vice President of Sports Brand Solutions, Disney Advertising, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution
As Vice President of Sports Brand Solutions for Disney Advertising, Deidra she leads the team responsible for developing creative marketing solutions to meet brand KPI’s across all of ESPN’s linear and addressable content portfolio as well as overseeing a Sponsorship Activation team that manages brand activations at key sports events. As a 15-year veteran of The Walt Disney Company, she has contributed to numerous successful rights renewal and content acquisitions for the organization, including the most recent NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, XFL and Wimbledon agreements.
Maddock oversees go-to-market strategies for each sport, development of all single and multimedia sponsorship offerings and fulfillment of those sponsorships. She and her teams are responsible for developing and maintaining strong working relationships with Disney Advertising clients and all sport leagues, as well as the internal production, programming, legal, consumer, product, content, business development and revenue management groups.
Prior to transitioning into the Company’s Sports Marketing team in 2012, Maddock was a TV account executive for ESPN for five years. She began her career in 1997, holding posts at media companies including Comcast, Discovery Channel and Ogilvy & Mather.
Maddock was recently named as Cynopsis Media’s 2023 Top Women in Media as an MVP for her leadership in elevating sports advertising business as well as the culture at Disney Advertising. In 2022, she was named to Crain’s Notable Women In Sports List, honoring top women executives who have exceeded expectations and helped redefine the business of sports in New York City.
A resident of Long Island, NY, and mother to four girls, Maddock graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and political science.
President, The Montag Group
Sandy Montag, a 30-year industry veteran, serves as President of The Montag Group. TMG was acquired by Wasserman Media Group in 2021.
Montag represents a wide variety of clients in various fields, including broadcasting, coaching, culinary, and team sports. Clients include John Madden, Bob Costas, Mary Carillo, James Brown, Jim Nantz, Julie Foudy, Mike Tirico, Ming Tsai, Scott Van Pelt, Jeremy Schaap and Tom Coughlin.
Montag served as Executive Producer on numerous documentaries, including Amazon Prime’s “All or Nothing: The Michigan Wolverines,” Showtime’s “Perfect in ’76,” HBO Max’s “Extra Innings from 9/11: 20 Years Later” and ESPN’s “The Class That Saved Coach K,” which aired with the launch of the ACC Network in August 2019.
Montag spent 30 years at IMG, joining the company in 1985. He started as an assistant to John Madden, traveling the country with Madden by train and on the first “Madden Cruiser.” He went on to run IMG’s Clients operations for ten years. Montag developed and launched Ari Fleischer Sports Communications with Ari Fleischer, former press secretary to President George W. Bush after Fleischer left the White House in 2003.
Montag is active in several charities, serving on the advisory boards for Madden Charities, Tom Coughlin’s “Jay Fund Foundation,” Team LeGrand, the Alan T. Brown Foundation and March of Dimes. He also serves on the Sport Management Advisory Boards at Syracuse University, the University of Michigan and NYU, as well as the Advisory Board for the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.
Syracuse University honored Montag with Newhouse’s 2019 Marty Glickman Award for leadership in sports media.
The Montag Group is based in Manhattan and White Plains, New York.
Senior Vice President, Talent Strategy, CBS News
Laurie Orlando joined CBS News as senior vice president for talent strategy in January 2016. She oversees recruiting and development of and long term planning for on-air talent for all CBS News shows, including “CBS This Morning,” “CBS Evening News,” “48 Hours,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “Face the Nation” and “60 Minutes”. Orlando works closely with the digital and interactive groups who produce CBSN, the company’s 24-hour news service, as well as with the owned and operated affiliates throughout the country.
Prior to joining CBS News, Orlando was senior vice president for talent development and planning at ESPN since 2008. She was responsible for ESPN’s Talent Office and relationships with the on-air personalities who represent the ESPN brand across all multimedia platforms. It was the second ESPN stint for Orlando, who worked for ESPN Classic as a coordinating producer in 1999. In her earlier role, she oversaw the development, supervision and execution of all original, documentary and long-form programming.
Prior to that, Orlando served as the senior vice president and executive producer for MSG and Fox Sports New York (Sept. 2006-Dec. 2007), and spent nearly five years (Nov. 2002- Aug. 2006) at College Sports Television (CSTV, now CBS Sports Network) as vice president of programming, original programming and development and vice president of remote and feature production.
Orlando has held significant production and programming roles at multiple networks during her career, and has developed a reputation throughout the industry as a creative executive who thrives on the challenge of building networks from their inception, having played an integral role in start-up teams that launched five networks — The Comedy Channel (1989), Classic Sports Network (1994), Oxygen Media (1999), CSTV (2003), and The Mtn (2006), all of which remain on the air in some form.
Orlando has exhibited a passion for sports throughout her professional career, beginning with her early experience as a freelance producer for Showtime’s Championship Boxing coverage (Jan. 1991-July 1996). She joined Classic Sports Network in 1996 as a coordinating producer responsible for development and execution of the network’s boxing programming and original programming, and she also supervised original studio production for all sports genres.
A native of Scotia, N.Y., Orlando graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor of science degree in international relations, with minors in Russian studies and foreign policy, as well as a bachelor of arts in television and film writing from the Newhouse School of Public Communications. She began her career in television in 1980, serving as a news intern with WRGB-TV in Albany. In 1986, she interned on “Late Night With David Letterman” before moving into positions with Showtime and HBO’s Comedy Channel.
Orlando is an alumni advisor for students at Newhouse; a member of the Advisory Board for Own the Room, an Improv & Presentation Training Company; and is a member of Women in Cable Television (WICT); and Women in Sports and Events (WISE).
Michael J. Patent
Co-Founder and Managing Director, Culture Group
Michael Patent is an entertainment and brand marketing executive with a 17-year history of developing creative brand partnerships and innovative brand strategies in the U.S. and Asia. He is the founder and managing director of Culture Group, a pan-Asian entertainment marketing agency founded in 2016 with partner Doug Scott. With offices in Shanghai, Manila, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia and New York, the agency represents and advises a variety of leading brands and entertainment properties across Asia. Clients include Singtel Group’s Globe Telecom, for whom they serve as agency of record, as well as ESPN, Tencent and Riot Games.
Prior to founding Culture Group, Patent served as senior vice president with AEG Global Partnerships in Shanghai from 2013-2015, where he led the overall development and servicing of brand partnerships for AEG assets and events in Asia. During this time, he paired Honda with Bruno Mars, Toyota with Justin Bieber, Hennessy VSOP with Adam Lambert; and Infiniti, American Express, Budweiser and Blackberry with Cirque du Soleil, among others.
While at AEG Asia, he worked alongside AEG Facilities and AEG Real Estate in advising real estate developers and provincial government entities in the development of live entertainment and mixed-use real estate developments in Dalian, Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai.
Prior to AEG Asia, Patent was vice president at AEG Global Partnerships in New York from 2011-2013 and served as an executive with Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment and Nelligan Sports Marketing. His first job in the sports industry was with Syracuse University Athletics and later with Syracuse ISP Sports (now known as IMG College).
A New York native, Patent speaks Mandarin Chinese with intermediate fluency. He is a former co-chairperson, UJA Federation of New York’s Young Entertainment and Media Committee, and former board observer of UJA’s Sports for Youth Committee. He currently splits his time between Shanghai, Manila and Singapore.
Senior Vice President/Chief Sales Officer, Baltimore Ravens
Kevin Rochlitz joined the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens in 2003 and was named senior vice president/chief sales officer in 2019. He leads the Ravens’ corporate sales department, which includes national and regional partnerships, broadcasting contracts – including day-to-day operations with WBAL-TV, WBAL Radio and 98Rock – and M&T Bank Stadium suite sales.
Among the contracts completed by Rochlitz are partnerships with MedStar Health, Safeway, Visa, Coca-Cola, MillerCoors, Anheuser-Busch, Verizon, Southwest Airlines, Maryland Lottery and Dietz and Watson.
In 2015, Rochlitz led the sale of the Constellation Energy Suite Level at M&T Bank Stadium, while in 2014, he guided a sales team that completed a 10-year, $60 million partnership extension with M&T Bank, including the continuation of naming rights to M&T Bank Stadium and several community focused programs. In 2012, Rochlitz coordinated a partnership with Under Armour, which led to the team’s training facility being named the Under Armour Performance Center.
Rochlitz also spent five years as senior vice president of sales for Mandalay Sports and Entertainment/Mandalay Pictures, owners of the Dayton Dragons and Frisco Rough Riders. He coordinated the new stadium construction and sold naming rights for each venue (Fifth Third Field in Dayton, Ohio, and Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas). From 1996-97, he was one of the youngest assistant athletic directors in NCAA Division I-A for the University of Miami.
Rochlitz serves on the NFL Club Business Development Committee. He is also on the Signal 13 Foundation with the Baltimore City Police Department.
Named a Baltimore Smart CEO Executive of the Year in 2016, Rochlitz was chosen to participate in the 2015-16 Leadership Baltimore County program. In 2011, he was selected by U.S. Department of Defense and Secretary Robert Gates to join the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference to better understand and promote the U.S. military.
Rochlitz earned a degree in marketing from the University of Wyoming, where he serves on the Business Advisory Board. He and his wife, Melissa, have a daughter, Riley.
Jeffrey Rubin is the founder and CEO of Sidearm Sports, which provides digital engagement platforms for the largest brands in college athletics. He is also the Chief Digital Officer of the media group within Learfield IMG College.
Rubin also serves as an associate professor of practice at Syracuse University’s iSchool. He’s passionate about sports, technology and educating and mentoring our future leaders.
Sidearm works with over 90 percent of NCAA Division I programs and is a digital engagement platform that powers the official websites, apps, stats, ticketing and sponsorship integration for these university partners. Clients include Syracuse, Duke, Alabama, UCLA, Texas, and more.
In July 2014, Learfield acquired Sidearm Sports. Learfield IMG College is the Multimedia Rights Holder (MMRA) for the top collegiate athletic programs in the U.S. Since the acquisition, Rubin remains CEO of Sidearm Sports and all employees remain in Syracuse.
Rubin serves on Syracuse University Athletics’ external affairs committee, and is active with the Jim & Juli Boeheim foundation, David’s Refuge, and the Museum of Science and Technology (MOST) in Syracuse. He is a 1995 graduate of Syracuse University’s iSchool and serves on the iSchool’s Board of Advisors.
Ben C. Sutton Jr.
Founder and Chairman, Teall Investments
Ben C. Sutton Jr. is founder and chairman of Teall Capital, a private equity company with investments in a portfolio of businesses including Riddle & Bloom, Tailgate Guys, Sunshine Beverages, Complex Sports & Entertainment, and Dyehard Fan Supply.
Sutton, a graduate of Wake Forest University and law school, was previously Chairman and CEO of IMG College, which he founded as ISP Sports in 1992, essentially inventing the college media business as it’s known today. When he stepped down as CEO in 2015, IMG was the largest college sports marketing enterprise, as well as sports/entertainment sales organization in America. In addition to building the core businesses of IMG College into four national market-leading companies, he was largely responsible for the growth of IMG Worldwide, engineering the sale of the company in 2014 for $2.4 billion. IMG was the national market leader in media, licensing, ticketing and stadium seating, working with more than 225 universities, conferences, NCAA and College Football Playoff.
In addition to being named one of the most powerful sports executives in America, Sutton has received numerous awards, including the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine, Wake Forest Distinguished Alumni award, Roone Arledge Award for Innovation, and is an inductee of the North Carolina Sports, National Football Foundation, NACMA, and Sports Business Halls of Fame. He serves on boards of Wake Forest University, White House Historical Association, Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, National Football Foundation, The First Tee and the United States Olympic Committee foundation. The Sutton Family Foundation has invested nearly $50 million in philanthropic causes.
Kathrine Switzer is one of running’s most iconic figures: her gender-barrier breaking run in the 1967 Boston Marathon launched the women’s running revolution and she recently ran this marathon again 50 years later. The SU grad is an Emmy-award winning TV commentator, author, speaker and founder of “261 Fearless,” a global non-profit to empower women through running.
Switzer was inducted into the U.S.A. National Women’s Hall of Fame. Her work in the sport has become a force for positive global social change, and because of her, millions of women are now empowered by the act of running.
Her work began accidentally in 1967 when she was the first woman to enter the Boston Marathon when it was considered a men’s-only race. Her entry revolutionized the sports world when she was physically attacked by the race director for wearing official numbers in the race. The photo of this incident flashed around the globe and became one of Time-Life’s “100 Photos that Changed the World.” Switzer finished that race but was radicalized by the incident. She campaigned to make women official in the Boston Marathon in 1972 and later that year was one of the creators of the first women’s road race.
Switzer went on run more than 40 marathons, and won the New York City Marathon in 1974. She ran her personal best in 1975, finishing second in Boston (2:51:33). She then put her energies into creating the Avon International Running Circuit of women’s-only races in 27 countries with more than 1 million participating from 1978 to today. It was this series of events, which showed global participation and performances, that largely convinced the IOC to include a women’s marathon in the 1984 Olympic Games.
Switzer is an Emmy award-winning TV commentator and has covered the Olympic Games, World and National Championships as well as the New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and every televised edition of the Boston Marathon. She is a public speaker, journalist and author of three books, including her memoir, Marathon Woman. Her other books include 26.2 Marathon Stories, co-authored with her husband, Roger Robinson, and Running and Walking for Women Over 40.
Switzer continues creating opportunities for women around the world through “261 Fearless,” a movement to empower women through running that includes the 261 Women’s Marathon in Mallorca, Spain, a line of 261 Fearless running clothes with Skirt Sports, Inc., and a global series of 261 Fearless running clubs and training. For more information, please visit marathonwoman.com.
Play-By-Play Commentator, Host, NBC Sports
Syracuse University alum Mike Tirico is the voice of NBC Sports’ biggest events, handling play-by-play for Sunday Night Football – primetime TV’s No. 1 show for an unprecedented 11 consecutive years – and serving as the primetime host for NBCUniversal’s coverage of the Olympics. Tirico, who joined NBC Sports in July 2016, also hosts NBC Sports’ coverage of Triple Crown horse racing, the Indianapolis 500, and golf’s U.S. Open and Open Championship.
The Associated Press wrote in January 2021: “Smooth, informational, funny and opinionated when needed, Tirico simply is the best no matter what sport he is announcing. The more Tirico the better.”
For Fall 2022, Tirico will call primetime NFL games for his 17th consecutive season, including 10 years as the voice of ESPN’s Monday Night Football. In addition, 2022 marks his 27th season as an NFL primetime studio host or play-by-play voice.
In May 2022, Tirico earned the Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Host, following an unmatched year in which he anchored the Tokyo Olympics in primetime, the Super Bowl LVI Pregame Show, Football Night in America, horse racing’s Triple Crown, golf’s U.S. Open, and the Indianapolis 500.
In February 2022, Tirico completed an unprecedented hosting double: anchoring the NBC Olympics primetime show in Beijing (beginning Feb. 3) and Los Angeles, while also hosting the Super Bowl LVI pregame show from SoFi Stadium on Feb. 13, as NBCUniversal presented the two global events in an 18-day stretch.
The 2022 Beijing Olympics was Tirico’s third as NBC’s primetime Olympics host (Tokyo, Pyeongchang). He served as an NBC daytime host at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
In February 2019, Tirico was named host of NBC Sports’ inaugural coverage of the Indianapolis 500. Earlier in the same month, he called play-by-play for his first-ever NHL game, after previously hosting the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, 2019 NHL Winter Classic, and 2019 NHL All-Star Game.
In August 2018, Tirico was named studio host for Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports, leading into Sunday Night Football, primetime television’s No. 1 show.
In May 2017, Tirico was named NBC’s play-by-play voice for Thursday Night Football, alongside analyst and current SNF partner Cris Collinsworth.
Tirico was named the full-time lead play-by-play voice of NBC Sports’ Notre Dame Football coverage in August 2017. In the spring of 2017, Tirico debuted as the host of NBC’s Triple Crown horse racing – covering the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.
Tirico made his NBC Sports Group debut in July 2016 as host of NBC Sports’ live coverage of The Open from Royal Troon in Scotland. Shortly thereafter, he made his Olympics debut as host for NBC’s daytime coverage of Rio 2016. Also that fall, Tirico served as host of The Ryder Cup and NBC’s primetime coverage of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Tirico joined NBC after 25 years at ESPN/ABC (1991-2016), where he established himself as a preeminent broadcaster on properties and events including Monday Night Football, The Open, The Masters, NBA, college football, college basketball, FIFA World Cup, and tennis’ U.S. Open and Wimbledon. Tirico, the voice of ESPN’s Monday Night Football from 2006-2015, is one of four play-by-play announcers to work primetime NFL games for at least 10 seasons (Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Mike Patrick). He was named the 2010 Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA), an award voted on by his industry peers.
Tirico joined ESPN as a SportsCenter anchor in July 1991, later serving as host of Monday Night Countdown during the NFL season from that show’s 1993 launch to 2001. From 1993-1997, he anchored ESPN’s college football studio show. In December 1996, Tirico was named golf host for ABC Sports, and in 2002, began calling NBA games for ABC, ESPN, and ESPN Radio. In addition, he hosted SportsCenter coverage of the U.S. Open, The Masters and the Daytona 500, and anchored coverage of the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, and NFL Draft for both television and radio.
Prior to joining ESPN, Tirico worked in Syracuse, N.Y. (1987-1991). He was sports director at WTVH-TV and served as play-by-play voice for Syracuse University basketball, football, lacrosse and volleyball.
Director of Athletics, Syracuse University; and Former Executive Vice President, Programming & Production, ESPN
John Wildhack was named Director of Athletics for his alma mater, Syracuse University, in July 2016.
Previously he worked at ESPN for 36 years, his last role as executive vice president, programming and production, since January 2014, where he oversaw all ESPN production efforts, as well as programming acquisitions, rights holder relationship management and scheduling.
Wildhack holds the distinction of producing ESPN’s first live NFL game, Chicago at Miami (August 1987), and its first live regular-season college football game, Brigham Young vs. Pittsburgh (September 1984).
From 1994 to January 2012, Wildhack held top executive positions in the programming department. In 2007, he served as executive vice president, programming and acquisitions, overseeing all rights negotiations and managing relationships with rights holders for all ESPN entities. These include ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU, ESPN International, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN3, ESPN Mobile Properties, print and more. In 2009, he added responsibility for strategic program planning for all the ESPN television networks, ESPN on ABC and ESPN’s digital platforms.
While leading programming, Wildhack’s efforts were integral in the increase of live and original programming on ESPN and ESPN2, close to 10,000 hours. Under his direction, the evolution of ESPN2’s programming lineup included an extensive commitment to auto racing, college football and basketball, leading to ESPN2 becoming the fastest growing network of the 1990s. Wildhack was also directly involved in the renewal and expansion of many ESPN and ESPN2 programming agreements including NFL, MLB, NBA, the Bowl Championship Series, NCAA, tennis’ four Grand Slam events and a variety of major college conferences.
Wildhack joined ESPN as a production assistant in 1980. He was promoted to associate producer in 1982, to senior associate producer in 1983 and to producer in 1985. Among the sports he worked on were college football, NCAA basketball, boxing, golf and auto racing. He served as coordinating producer of ESPN’s Sunday Night NFL and NFL Draft telecasts in 1988 and 1989 and produced NFL games for the network the first NFL games on cable from 1987-89. From 1990-91 he was director, event productions, and vice president, remote production from 1991-1993. He then was promoted to senior vice president, remote production.
In September 1994, he moved to the programming department as senior vice president, programming, and in 2005 he became senior vice president, programming acquisitions & strategy.
A native of Buffalo, Wildhack received a bachelor of arts degree in telecommunications in 1980 from Syracuse University.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Brown Diamond Holdings
Roland has more than 20 years of high performance and impact as a professional athlete, humanitarian and entrepreneur.
A graduate of Syracuse University, Roland went on to play in the National Football League for an accomplished eight-year career with the Rams, Raiders and Buccaneers, earning Rookie of the Year honors for the Rams, an AFC Championship with the Raiders, and most notably, was an integral part of the Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” offensive unit, breaking numerous records en route to a Super Bowl victory.
Following his professional football career, Roland has continued to enjoy success with his blueprint of discipline, teamwork and strategy. Whether as a sports analyst, executive coach, philanthropist, entrepreneur or investor, Roland’s commitment to hard work, discipline, teamwork and faith continue to be the winning playbook for success.
As Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Brown Diamond Holdings (BDH), Roland is committed to being a catalyst for economic equity, empowerment and sustainability with a portfolio of assets across multiple sectors including marketing, manufacturing, consulting and technology. Roland has a unique ability to develop effective teams, raise capital and create effective go-to market strategies.
Roland is committed to making a difference in the community and beyond. He founded the Champion Academy Extreme Mentoring & Empowerment Initiative, an impactful mentoring program helping thousands of teens in poverty overcome social, emotional and academic challenges to maximize their human potential.
Roland is the proud father of three sons and resides in Southern California.
President, Coral Rock Development Group
Michael Wohl has an in-depth familiarity with real estate and law. He is a second-generation real estate developer, carrying on his family’s tradition of quality development first started in New York and carried to South Florida with his relocation to the area in 1975. Wohl had been active in real estate development and management while continuing to practice law until 1990, when he formed his own full-service real estate firm, which has owned and managed over 1 million square feet of commercial property and 700 apartment units in Florida.
He co-founded Pinnacle Housing Group in 1997. Pinnacle is recognized as the leading producer of affordable housing in the southeast United States having delivered over 10,000 units in over 70 complexes. Wohl is also a co-founder of Ascend Properties.
Wohl has extensive experience in negotiating, documenting and closing acquisitions and sales of residential, industrial and commercial office space. He is well-versed in project financing and leasing. Wohl is a recognized industry leader in devising approaches to developing affordable housing in an urban environment.
He serves as chairman of the Urban Land Institute’s Center for Workforce Housing, which works to solve the persistent affordable housing problems in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach (FL) counties.
He earned both his B.A. and J.D. degrees at Syracuse University, where he serves the University as a Trustee. Wohl is also a Licensed Real Estate Broker and Mortgage Broker.