SBJ/August 20-26, 2012/In Depth

Most Influential: College Football, 21-25

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No. 21
Chuck Neinas
Former interim commissioner, Big 12 Conference

Photo by: Big 12 Conference
At a time when the Big 12 was reeling, Neinas took over as interim commissioner and stabilized the membership, added TCU and West Virginia, and initiated talks with ESPN and Fox about a new TV deal. Neinas also had a seat at the table as negotiations began for a college football playoff, and he started the formation of the Champions Bowl with the SEC. Even though Neinas is no longer in the commissioner’s chair, he left the Big 12 in much better shape than he found it after only nine months. The pioneer of the search firm business and longtime administrator showed that he still has the chops to be an influential force in the game.



No. 22
Jeremy Foley
Athletic director, University of Florida

Foley is simply the most influential voice among athletic directors in the nation’s most dominant conference. For
Photo by: UF Communications
20years, his school has produced some of the best football teams in the SEC. During that time, Foley has emerged as a thoughtful but forceful personality who drives the discussion whenever SEC athletic directors meet. Other SEC ADs say there’s no question who sets the agenda in league meetings and whose voice carries the most weight. It’s Foley’s.




No. 23
Greg Brown
CEO, Learfield Sports

Photo by: Learfield
Learfield’s chief executive has developed 30 years of relationships in the college space and overseen a business that has deals with close to 50 major colleges, including North Carolina, Penn State, Oklahoma, Stanford and Alabama. Whenever those partners have a question about the commercial side of the athletics business, Brown is usually their first call. With a recent cash boost from Shamrock Capital Advisors and a partnership in IMG’s ticketing business, Learfield has positioned itself to remain as one of the top marketers in college sports.



No. 24
Melinda Witmer
Chief programming officer, Time Warner Cable

As the gatekeeper at the country’s second-largest cable operator, Witmer has a big say in the college channels that will be
Photo by: Shana Wittenwyler
successful and the college channels that won’t. Time Warner Cable is the biggest cable operator in Texas, but the MSO isn’t close to a carriage deal with Longhorn Network. Time Warner Cable is one of the biggest distributors in the Los Angeles market and it was one of the first to sign on for the Pac-12 Networks. Under Witmer’s guidance, Time Warner Cable was one of the last major distributors to cut a deal for Big Ten Network.




No. 25
Bill Hancock
Executive director, BCS

Photo by: BCS
It can be argued — and rightly so — that Hancock’s influence is limited because he’s not one of the decision-makers in the BCS. But when it’s time for the conference commissioners to meet, Hancock sets the agenda and keeps them on task. One administrator said, “His job is to keep the horses in the barn, but you’ve got to understand that he’s dealing with some wild broncos.” Because he’s the executive director, Hancock also has evolved into something of a spokesman for the BCS. He might not be the face of the BCS, but often he’s considered its voice, and always its biggest champion.

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