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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 and wrestling tournaments, the launch of the SoCon Digital Network, and a collaborative academic initiative begun in 2014-15.
In the summer of 2015, the conference signed a new six-year deal with ESPN that will run through the league’s centennial celebration in 2020-21. The SoCon will broadcast nearly 2,000 live events for ESPN3 over the life of that contract, including select regular-season contests and conference championships in football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, baseball, softball, men’s lacrosse, volleyball and wrestling.
In 2014, Iamarino signed an agreement for a broadcast television package with commercial stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group under the banner of the American Sports Network. ASN carried 18 live SoCon events last year and will do 8-10 events in 2015-16.
Iamarino also spearheaded creation of the SoCon Academic Exchange. Working with chief academic officers and designated faculty, the conference launched the collaborative educational project designed to provide learning activities and opportunities to benefit students – athletes and non-athletes alike – faculty and administrators of the member institutions. As part of the increased academic focus, Iamarino and the SoCon created a Faculty Member of the Year award to recognize outstanding achievement and commitment on the part of member institutions’ faculty.
Another successful initiative by the conference has been the SoCon Digital Network, a free Internet-based platform that carried more than 600 live events in high definition during its first year. Between ESPN3, ASN and is own digital network, the conference has ensured that all league games in football and men’s and women’s basketball are available for viewing.
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 Southern Conference membership by inviting East Tennessee State University, Mercer University and Virginia Military Institute to become members. 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 by recording a 3.0 GPA or better.
Iamarino has spent the past 31 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.
He 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).
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 and contributor to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and has published articles for Baseball Digest magazine. He resides in Spartanburg, S.C., with his wife, Mary Ann, and son, P.J.