Years ago I applied for the play-by-play job at my alma mater, Kansas State University. I went to school there; I was a walk on in the basketball program there and my dad is an alumnus and had ties with some big boosters. I thought I had a good shot at the job.
The problem was, I wasn’t qualified nor good enough. The extent of my play-by-play experience was high school and NAIA college stuff in small town Kansas.
Here are five things you can do to give yourself the best chance at making the jump to DI play-by-play.
1. Become an elite person
The people who get Division I play-by-play jobs are passionate about their craft, they’re focused, they’re determined, they’re relentless and they are great people persons. They have a lot of connections, they know how to build relationships, they have influential people going to bat for them. They present themselves well, not just in the interview process but also in life.
If you’re shy and reserved today, work to grow out of your shell.
Another part of being an elite person is presenting yourself well physically. Take care to dress nicely. It doesn’t mean you have to wear suits everywhere, but dress nicely — especially when you’re at work. Put some gel in your hair and style it a bit. Be an elite person inside and out.
2. Be an elite broadcaster
Get as many reps as you can, seek critique and always be improving.
3. Build relationships
Build relationships with the other broadcasters in your conference, the other athletic directors, with broadcasters your admire throughout the country, with employers, with everybody. Build relationships so when that DI job opens for which you want to apply, you’ll have people who will eagerly reach out to the employer on your behalf.
Employers prefer to hire people they know or who come recommended to them.
4. Meet hiring managers
It can be hard to meet them but they’re not confined to their offices. They appear at industry conferences, sporting events and other places. Find out where they are going to be, then be there.
However you do it, meet people so they can put a face and a personality with your name, resume and demo.
5. Use the back door
Baseball and women’s basketball are a back door into DI play-by-play. Those positions turn over much more frequently than football and men’s basketball. And the barrier for entry is much lower. I have seen many DI women’s basketball play-by-play jobs filled by average broadcasters.
Ask schools in your area if they have need for a women’s basketball or baseball broadcaster, or someone to call Olympic sports. Get your foot in the door with a DI program so when another D1 school wants to hire you to be their football, basketball voice, it’s easy for them to write the press release saying that you’re already with a DI broadcast team.
The fact you are doing women’s basketball doesn’t matter. The fact you’re doing it at UCLA or Michigan does.