Congratulations, Todd Knisley, Vice President/General Manager of LEARFIELD’s Ohio State Sports Properties, for being named as a SBJ “Forty under 40” honoree!
When Ohio State agreed to a unique revenue-share model for its multimedia rights contract with LEARFIELD, the company knew it had to deliver with its best foot forward. It installed Todd Knisley as the properties’ general manager and surrounded him with a hefty 23-person staff at Ohio State. Within a few years, LEARFIELD’s Ohio State Sports Properties was generating more than $30 million a year, the most of any LEARFIELD property.
Knisley, who previously led the West Virginia property, oversaw the restructuring at Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ athletic director, Gene Smith, moved Knisley and his team into the Fawcett Center, where athletics is housed.
“Our team is a true extension of his,” said Knisley, adding that the Ohio State property’s revenue is expected to hit $33 million this year. “We’re in lock step and that’s critical. So, when we’re talking about something strategically that’s really important, we’re in the room. … When you look at sports and sports entertainment, and what we’re accomplishing, it’s really second to none.”
Knisley started out in athletics and was working in marketing for Oklahoma when an offer came in that changed the trajectory of his professional journey. He left the Sooners to join the ISP team at TCU.
“I had never sold a sponsorship in my life,” said Knisley. But ISP CEO and Chairman Ben Sutton “gambled on me.”
“I was calling restaurants at lunch hour, which you never do,” he said. “It was learn as you go. But that’s how you grow.” — Michael Smith
Vice President and General Manager, Ohio State Sports Properties / LEARFIELD
Born: Alexandria, Va.
Education: West Virginia University, B.S., sport management (magna cum laude), and M.S., sport management
Family: Spouse, Kelsey; children, Brooks (3), twins Chase and Caroline (15 months)
Advice to my 20-year-old self: Understand the full value of the network you are creating.
First job: Replay Sports. Selling athletic equipment and sports cards.
How I relieve stress: Golf.
Favorite saying: Carry a solutions provider mindset.
Cause supported: The Buckeyes Care Program.
Mobile app I could not live without: USGA Golf Handicap Information Network.
Person in sports business I’d most like to meet: Tiger Woods. Verticals he puts his fingerprints on tend to be successful (apparel line, golf course design, and mini golf).
Most pivotal decision in my career: Joining the corporate sales sector at ISP Sports.
The sports industry needs to do a better job of … : Keeping a closer eye on other industries and how their best practices can relate to ours.
Check out SBJ’s full release here.