Universities are eager to hire coaches who have successfully built programs elsewhere. A similar track record of success has led STAA member Phil Constantino to his new job as Director of Broadcasting at Gardner-Webb University.
Constantino moves an hour west after more than years at Queens University in Charlotte, NC. It was at Queens where he built a broadcasting and multimedia platform from scratch.
“They really like my on-air skills, but they love most how I built the operation at Queens and built relationships with the communications school on campus,” Constantino says about Gardner-Webb. “They haven’t had someone with that sort of experience in this role before and they’ve told me to build it just like I did at Queens.”
Constantino learned of the GWU opening in July after being recommended by a friend in the sports TV industry. COVID postponed the hiring process until November. “I messaged the Assistant AD on Twitter,” Constantino recalls. “He remembered my name from [the recommendation] and hits me back to set up a phone call for the next morning. Within a week I had three interviews, including an on-campus meeting with the AD, and the offer, before I ever formally applied.”
During the interview process, Constantino sold the Athletic Director and Assistant AD on his ability to run a program just like any coach they would hire. “There are talented broadcasters everywhere. Ultimately, the ability to run the show is the most important part of the job, whether I’m the one on the air or not. Versatility is imperative. Without wide-ranging skills, I would not have this job,” Constantino suggests.
Investing in relationships also helped Constantino get the GWU gig. “I was recommended for this job by someone who has become a good friend and mentor, but is also someone that GWU trusts in the broadcast field. Connections matter, but your connections must be genuine. It’s important to truly invest in the people around you. It’s not always about business.”
Constantino earned his Masters from Queens in October after earning his undergrad degree from Penn State in 2015.
At Penn State, Constantino was one of the more accomplished student broadcasters at one of the largest communications schools in the country. He mistakenly thought success was inevitable.
“Simply put, I thought I was a lot more talented than I actually was,” Constantino admits. “That’s not a recipe for success in an uber-competitive business such as broadcasting. I had a lot of learning to do and it took me some time to realize just how bad I was. That said, at first I couldn’t get any play-by-play reps anywhere. It was frustrating and, at times, flat out depressing. But I found ways to create my own opportunities to get better.
“I latched on at Queens, a tiny little DII school that I had never heard of, and by showing up and proving my investment in the product, I was offered a full-time job and asked to build out an entire broadcast department. Without this realization and creative thinking, I would’ve been out of the business a long time ago.”
Constantino joined STAA in 2018, but not to receive sportscasting job leads. “I joined STAA strictly to learn,” he says. “I think most people think of STAA as a means to find a job. I, instead, have always thought of STAA as a forum for broadcasters to communicate, learn from each other, and learn from Jon Chelesnik, someone who is the real deal, has been around the business, and knows his stuff.
“To this day, I regularly watch STAA videos and read STAA posts with the goal of getting better. I listen to the monthly group critique, even if my work is not in it. My goal was to become a better broadcaster and STAA has made me better. And I still have so much more to learn.”
Constantino understands that constantly learning, building relationships and developing a variety of skills are keys in today’s sportscasting job market.
“Our business is about a lot more than how you look and sound on the air. Places like GWU are looking for the whole package,” he says.