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John Iamarino was named the eighth commissioner of the Southern Conference on Jan. 2, 2006. Since then, Iamarino and his staff have emphasized strategies to better serve the membership and raise the profile of the conference.
In collaboration with coaches and administrators, Iamarino has led efforts that resulted in new members joining the conference, the creation of a Hall of Fame, the return to Asheville, N.C., for the basketball tournaments, and the launch of the SoCon Digital Network in the fall of 2014.
In the summer of 2011, the conference signed a multi-year agreement to have a minimum of 40 live events carried exclusively on ESPN3, including extended coverage of the men’s and women’s basketball tournament and conference tournament championships in baseball, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball and softball. A minimum eight-game football schedule serves as a cornerstone to the package.
Iamarino recently signed an agreement for a broadcast television package with commercial stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. The SoCon hopes to have as many as 18 live events in several sports carried in 2014-15.
One of the most visible achievements during Iamarino’s tenure has been the creation of the Southern Conference Hall of Fame, whose inaugural class was enshrined on May 4, 2009. Among those who have been inducted are such sporting greats as Arnold Palmer, Jerry West, Sam Huff, Dick Groat, Frank Selvy, Rod Hundley and Lefty Driesell.
In May 2013, Iamarino worked with the conference presidents, chancellors and athletic directors to stabilize the membership by inviting East Tennessee State University, Mercer University and Virginia Military Institute to join in July 2014. Both ETSU and VMI were returning to the SoCon. The additions once more gave the conference a presence in the state of Virginia.
The SoCon has consistently ranked in the top 10 among all Division I conferences in the Academic Progress Rate (APR) and Iamarino has worked with the Council of Presidents to maintain a high academic standing for conference student-athletes. Almost 50 percent of all Southern Conference student-athletes earned inclusion on the SoCon’s Honor Roll, thereby owning a 3.0 GPA or better.
Iamarino, 59, has spent the past 30 years at the conference level, working at both the Sun Belt Conference and the Northeast Conference. Prior to joining the SoCon, he served as commissioner of the NEC for nine years. During that time, the conference launched its first website, approved athletic aid in the sport of football, increased television coverage from 12 to 30 basketball games, started its first TV coverage of football, and initiated more aggressive marketing and merchandising efforts.
At the Sun Belt, he spent 13 years in a variety of publicity, compliance and administrative positions, rising to the level of associate commissioner. When the original Sun Belt merged with the then-American South Conference in 1991, Iamarino was the lone staffer from the original organization to move to the new Sun Belt, heading the transition team for the first merger of two Division I conferences.
He entered the field of intercollegiate athletics as assistant sports information director at Georgetown University in 1979 before moving on to become sports information director at Jacksonville University.
Iamarino has been actively involved in a number of NCAA committees. He most recently served as chair of the Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP). Previously, he was a member of the Baseball Rules Committee and the FCS Football Governance Committee and has served on several sub-committees of the Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA). He is a member of the CCA’s working group studying enhancements to women’s basketball.
Iamarino is a native of Monsey, N.Y., and a 1977 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, where he earned magna cum laude honors majoring in journalism. An amateur baseball historian, he is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and has been a contributor to Baseball Digest magazine. He resides in Spartanburg, S.C., with his wife, Mary Ann, and son, P.J.