With just a month to go before Wake Forest football’s season opener against Syracuse on Sept. 1, there is one alumnus who has had football on his mind year-round. Michael S. Kelly (’92) is associate commissioner for broadcasting, communications and football operations at the Atlantic Coast Conference.
As associate commissioner of the ACC, you must be one of the busiest people in North Carolina this time of year. What path led you to your job, and what are your responsibilities?
I have been so fortunate in my career opportunities to date. Since graduating in 1992 I have had the pleasure of working in Major League Baseball (communications department of the Florida Marlins); for a bowl game (director of communications and special projects for the CarQuest Bowl); working for the Wake Forest athletic department as its director of operations and facilities; serving as the associate AD for external affairs at the University of South Florida; directing the local organizing committees for one Final Four (1999) and three Super Bowls and now serving as an associate commissioner at the Atlantic Coast Conference. I have been in my current role for a little more than four years and my responsibilities include oversight of our communications and football departments. I also serve as staff liaison with all of our broadcast and digital partners.
Are there particular challenges/rewards associated with managing broadcasting/communications related to football operations?
We have just started the implementation of a brand new multimedia partnership with ESPN and Raycom Sports. It is a 12-year deal that provides unprecedented coverage for all of our sports, and there are many new projects involving our website, our video archives (ACC Network Vault), our mobile applications (iPhone, iPad, Android) and the upcoming launch of a brand new ACC Digital Network. These initiatives require a lot of work from our staff and partners, but it is exciting to be a part of and it is rewarding to see the type of impact it all has on our programs.
The ACC is one of the most competitive and best-known conferences in the country. What factors contribute to its success?
The ACC is as successful as it is because all 12 of our institutions are committed to being the best they can be both on the field and in the classroom.
Like Wake Forest, the ACC supports total development of the student-athlete. Why is that important?
Having worked in both professional sports and college sports, I can honestly say it is really special to work in college sports because there truly is so much more involved than just business and winning. These student-athletes are remarkable people, and the more you learn about them the more you are inspired by their efforts and accomplishments in all facets of their life.
Since so few of these student-athletes will ever have the opportunity to play at the professional level, it is increasingly important for those of us in college sports administration to provide programs and opportunities that can prepare the student-athletes well for the rest of their lives. Some of the leadership, life skills and professional development programs that our schools provide for their student-athletes are phenomenal.
Were you active in athletics at WF? Any persons or classes that influenced your career?
I participated heavily in intramurals at Wake Forest, and I volunteered on game days for the Deacon Club, but I really didn’t get focused on a career in sports administration until after I graduated. My coursework prepared me well for my career, and I particularly remember and appreciate what I learned in classes taught by Dr. Katy Harriger, Dr. Yomi Durotoye, Dr. Willie Pearson and Dr. Maya Angelou. I also greatly appreciate how these professors were always willing to help me later in life with advice and recommendations.
Do you see any national champions from the ACC at the end of the 2011-12 season?
I am going to predict an impressive five national championships for ACC member institutions in the 2011-12 season.