Greg grew up in the small southwest Iowa town of Leon. He went to University, first at Iowa State and then Northeast Missouri State, now Truman State University. While still a student, he had an internship for Missouri Attorney General, John Ashcroft that included driving Ashcroft to speeches and enduring his gospel singing as they drove along. So that’s how he got to Jefferson City. He was originally hired at Learfield by Robert Fowler, who was an honorary member of his college fraternity.
Soon after he started at Learfield, I asked him to go with Roger up to Des Moines to manage the Iowa State property. He was in charge of sales and Roger was in charge of affiliate relations, but they made joint calls. As I mentioned in my post on Roger, Greg handled sales while Roger did affiliate relations but they made a lot of calls together.
Brown went to Oklahoma City to help King Bob for six weeks and then he returned to Jefferson City ’84 to 1989. In that time he became General Manager of Sports, replacing Kevin Meyer (who showed up at an ISU Athletic Department meeting in dreadlocks.)
The GM job in those days was everything: affiliates, university relations and operations. In 1989 Greg moved to Dallas to man our first office there, across the highway from SMU in the old Dallas Cowboys Building. Greg then oversaw most of our former SWC Schools.
Late in 1992 we’d won the rights to IU and Purdue, so Greg and Geri moved to Indianapolis just before Christmas to handle those schools, new business development for the entire company and West Coast sales. He got Wisconsin and Michigan State for us during that period and oversaw it from Indy.
In the Spring of 1994, Greg moved back to Dallas and planted the Learfield flag there for good. Interestingly, he’d go to markets where we needed help and just live for awhile. For example, he lived in Phoenix for six weeks three concurrent summers. He led us into multi-media deals beginning in late 1997, which he calls the single most significant change for our business.
There are two stories that must be told as they relate to Greg and Sports. One is how we first got the rights to Texas A&M, breaking up the old Southwest Conference. I will get to that in time. The other is about the time I fired Greg in 1991.
Robert Fowler was frustrated with the performance of our sports business, particularly in Texas. Much of it was the fault of a new business guy who was furiously –without regard to cost– signing up new properties. But Fowler and I talked and he asked me to fly down to Dallas and fire Brown.
I got off the plane, went in to the office and fired him. Simple. I went to a social lunch with the SMU lawyer, Leon Bennett; Greg went to lunch with his wife, Geri. They discussed where his head and heart were with regards to managing and selling. Moreover, it was where he had the first martini of his life. Greg and I reconvened after lunch where Greg suggested –and I agreed– to have him go back to selling and I’d eliminate the other two sellers in Dallas and have no manager.
Like Gardner, Brown has been a brother to me since 1996; we’ve weathered wars together. He is a trusted and loyal adviser. A very good friend.