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Volume 20 No. 46


an Patrick knew that he wanted to get into sports broadcasting when he graduated from the University of Dayton in 1979 — back in a time before the internet, cell phones and HDTV.

A broadcast journalism major, Patrick dabbled in media — he spun records for a rock ‘n’ roll radio station in Dayton after graduation. But he had no clue how to turn his interest into a sportscasting career. He wound up renting video and audio equipment, producing a five-minute sportscast.

“I sent it to Bob Ley at ESPN, who I’d eventually co-anchor with,” Patrick said. “Bob looked at the tape and said, ‘You have promise. But you need work.’”

Patrick ended up using the tape to land a sportscasting job at CNN in 1983, where he stayed for around six years before landing at ESPN in 1989.

“I was lost. I had no clue what I was doing, other than being on the radio,” Patrick said.

Despite all the advances in media technology from those early days, the process of finding an on-air job in media is still just as difficult. Patrick decided he wanted to do something to make it easier.

The veteran broadcaster is lending his name and support to a program to train students for careers in front of, and behind, the camera.
This week, he plans to unveil the plans behind the Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting at Full Sail University. The revenue-sharing partnership will see the Winter Park, Fla.-based for-profit university develop a sportscasting degree with instruction from Patrick and many of his industry colleagues.

The program launches Jan. 29. Administrators are in the process of hiring a regular faculty to teach the courses.

It already has commitments from what it calls a guest faculty. For example, a couple of times a year Bill Simmons, for example, could provide writing instruction, Jeremy Schaap could give talks on reporting and interviewing, and Jay Harris could teach the ins and outs of appearing on camera. They also are talking with former ESPN President George Bodenheimer about taking part.

“If the University of Phoenix and the Connecticut School of Broadcasting had a love child, it would look like this,” said Patrick’s agent, Reed Bergman, who brokered the deal.

Patrick hired Gus Ramsey, who he knew from his ESPN days, as program director. After a 23-year run in Bristol, Ramsey was part of ESPN’s 2015 layoffs and has been working as a talent coach for the past two years.

“There’s no better person who can be on the ground every single day teaching these kids what they need to do to get ready for local or national, ESPN, in front of the camera, behind the camera — he was that essential to this program,” Patrick said. “Firsthand knowledge is essential to this program. Gus was vital for that. In his job at ESPN, he would deal with the kids who had just graduated from college. They’d go in there and log highlights. Gus’ job was to work with them.”

Bergman and Patrick talked to Ramsey last year, believing that his background coaching on-air talent would fit naturally with what they were trying to accomplish.

“This was taking what I was doing and putting it on the best steroids in the world,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey said he had grown frustrated with how inexperienced recent college graduates were, from not knowing how to operate a teleprompter to not knowing the types of questions to ask during an on-camera interview.

“There was just a lack of understanding some of the basic day-to-day operational stuff,” Ramsey said. “I found myself constantly correcting things that people were learning in school. My mantra has become that in our classrooms, we’re going to teach you what people who have been in the control room have been learning for the past 20 years.”

Patrick had a similar experience. He said he first started thinking of developing a program like this 10 to 15 years ago after he kept running into recent college graduates who were as clueless about how to move forward in sportscasting as Patrick once was.

“I kept hearing questions that should have already been answered in college,” Patrick said. “How many reps did they get in front of a camera? Did somebody teach them how to do a podcast? Do they know how to speak in front of people? Have you had an interviewing coach? …

“I have a communications degree from Dayton. There wasn’t much to the curriculum that helped me get to where I am. In fact, the only class that really helped me was a speech class. The other things didn’t as much.”

Patrick and Bergman reached out to Full Sail University, a college that offers 80 programs in entertainment, media production and emerging technology.

“When Playbook reached out to us, that had been one of the degrees we’d been pondering,” said Full Sail President Garry Jones. “When Dan approached us, that really piqued our interest. To have a man of his stature and his reputation giving back — that’s our wheelhouse.”

Talks started in December 2015 with Josh Mora, Full Sail’s executive director of strategic planning. Mora started at Full Sail in 2010 after a five-year run as an on-air reporter for CSN Chicago. Back in 2010, Mora looked into launching a sportscasting degree but decided that it wouldn’t work.

“When Dan and Reed Bergman approached us about what Dan’s interests were, we decided to take another look about whether it made sense,” he said. “We decided these are the right people, this is the right time and this is the right program to launch an on-air degree.”

Patrick said that his goals for the program have less to do with numbers and more to do with reputation. Success is if local stations and networks call Full Sail looking for candidates.

“The best compliment I could get is if networks and local channels are asking if we have someone to fill their jobs,” Patrick said. ”It’s about placement. … Everybody wants to be on the air. Everybody. We want to give them the guidance so that they understand what it is, what the marketplace is like and how it’s changing.”

The program will be a mix of online and on-campus coursework.

Patrick stressed that he is doing more than licensing his name to Full Sail University. He is leading classes on campus at least four times a year, will be hosting webinars and using his contacts to talk to the students and, hopefully, place them at the end of their degree.

“I’m in,” he said. “It’s my name. I’m as prideful of this as I am the radio show that bears my name.”

John Ourand can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Ourand_SBJ.

SportsBusiness Journal has acquired a minority stake in The Esports Observer, a Berlin-based online publisher that covers esports business news, operates industry events and provides marketplace data.

Along with the investment, the two publishers expect to collaborate on news coverage, commercial matters and conferences, executives said. In the deal, SBJ parent American City Business Journals has an option to make additional investments in the future. Financial terms were not made public.

“It’s clear to all of us at SportsBusiness Journal and to our readers who work and invest in traditional sports that esports is an exciting and significant development,” said ACBJ CEO Whitney Shaw in a statement. “This partnership allows SBJ to extend its authority and credibility into esports.”

Founded in 2015, The Esports Observer is one of several websites created in recent years to benefit from the rise of competitive video gaming and the flow of investor and brand money into the space. It’s a portfolio company of BITKRAFT Esports Ventures network, led by ESL founder Jens Hilgers, who also is an owner of the esports team G2.

With esports competitive scenes flourishing in North America, Europe and Asia, a trans-Atlantic partnership will prove valuable, executives said. BITKRAFT has an office in Los Angeles, but The Esports Observer is run from Berlin. It employs eight people and publishes a daily and weekly email newsletter. Distribution figures were not made public.

“This partnership will strengthen our ability to provide coverage in the U.S. and organize conferences in tandem with SBJ and its sister company in London, Leaders,” said Esports Observer CEO Christopher Hana.

Online coverage of general gaming proliferates on a wide range of websites, YouTube commentators’ pages and Reddit, but original reporting on esports business news is handled by a much smaller group, including, which launched a dedicated vertical in 2016. SportsBusiness Journal has been covering esports as a dedicated beat since early 2016 and aggregates esports content in both SportsBusiness Daily and Global. It’s also producing the Esports Rising conference Nov. 9 in Marina del Rey, Calif.

Teresa Walsh of Access Media Advisors advised ACBJ on the transaction.

Stats LLC has added Wasserman chairman and CEO Casey Wasserman to its board of directors, part of an ongoing effort to expand the Chicago-based sports intelligence outfit beyond its traditional base of licensed sports data.

Wasserman, also chairman of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, was brought onto the board primarily by longtime friend and colleague Brian Sheth, co-founder and president of Stats owner Vista Equity Partners. Wasserman is expected to aid the company as it seeks to develop more advanced analytics products and continues an international expansion that recently included opening a regional base in Ireland.

“I’m certainly a big believer in the importance of data and analytics, and I’m looking forward to being a resource for [CEO] Ken [Fuchs] as they look to expand and grow,” Wasserman said. “If it was just about licensing data feeds, there probably wouldn’t be as much interest or value for me being involved. But they’re moving in a number of really interesting directions.”

Wasserman is expected to aid Stats as it expands overseas.
There is no equity component tied to the appointment of Wasserman to the Stats board. Vista, also an investor in secondary ticket marketplace Vivid Seats, remains the company’s full owner.

The arrival of Wasserman follows a marked period of transition for the company, a veteran of the industry. After Vista purchased Stats in 2014, it bought up several other data and analytics companies including Automated Insights, Prozone and Bloomberg Sports. The rapid rise of rival data outfit Sportradar in the U.S. saw it take official relationships with the NFL, NBA and others away from Stats, and Fuchs arrived in late 2015 to replace ousted chief executive Gary Walrath.

Working out of a new headquarters in downtown Chicago and with a new brand identity and logo, Stats is now developing several advanced player analysis products that build off its base in motion tracking. Among them are measures around “ghosting,” in which software predicts what a player should have done instead of what he actually did, and “chalkboarding” involving sketch-based video retrieval to quickly analyze specific types of plays.

“We’re trying to change the culture and mission of what we are from a U.S. data company to a global technology company,” Fuchs said.

Stats has also begun to publish research papers on its website, similar to how technology giants such as Intel, Microsoft, Google and Facebook publish work they are doing in areas such as artificial intelligence.

“We’re looking to get validation on the science behind our efforts,” said Patrick Lucey, Stats director of data science, hired two years ago from Disney Research. “We have to be willing to put it out there for the community to see.”