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John Iamarino is in his 11th year with the Southern Conference, having been named the eighth commissioner in league history on Jan. 2, 2006. During that time, the conference office has emphasized strategies to provide quality service to the membership while raising awareness of the conference.
Working in collaboration with presidents, chancellors, administrators and coaches, Iamarino has led multiple efforts to achieve those goals. When Division I factors scrambled conference alignments, the SoCon worked aggressively to invite ETSU, Mercer and VMI to solidify its membership. The recent additions of men’s lacrosse and rifle have increased the number of championship sports to 21, with women’s lacrosse on the near horizon to become No. 22.
With the emergence of content on demand across multiple platforms, Iamarino helped the conference reach consensus on how to adapt to the new trends. In the fall of 2014, the league launched the SoCon Digital Network (SDN), a free, user-friendly network that presented more than 600 live events in each of its first two seasons of operation. Concurrently, SoCon institutions have become capable of producing content for distribution to 99 million households on ESPN3. An agreement signed by the conference calls for member institutions to produce an annual total of 500 live events within a few years.
Iamarino also negotiated an agreement with the American Sports Network for broadcasts on commercial TV stations across the country. The SoCon has also produced content for the regional Fox Sports Southeast network.
One of the more 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. Through 2016, a total of 38 former athletes, coaches and officials have been inducted, among them sporting greats such as Jerry West, Arnold Palmer, Steph Curry, Sam Huff, Clint Dempsey, “Hot” Rod Hundley and Lefty Driesell.
The SoCon has consistently ranked in the top 10 among all Division I conferences in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR), a predictor of graduation rates. To build on the academic strength of the league, the SoCon Academic Exchange was created in 2014-15. Through the efforts of the chief academic officers and provosts, the Academic Exchange has initiated a leadership, education and development program for faculty, as well as the first undergraduate research forum in the SoCon’s history.
Both the All-Southern Conference Faculty award and the newly created Pinnacle Award, given to the senior student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA on the championship-winning team in each SoCon sport, are byproducts of the Academic Exchange.
Iamarino, 61, has spent the past 32 years at the conference level, working at both the Sun Belt and Northeast conferences. Prior to joining the SoCon, he served as commissioner of the Northeast Conference for nine years. During that time, the league 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 for three years.
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 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 of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and has published articles for SABR as well as Baseball Digest magazine. He resides in Spartanburg, S.C., with his wife, Mary Ann, and their son, P.J.