B.J. Schecter Named Interim Executive Director of Center for Sports Media
Schecter has been closely involved in the Center's operation since it was founded in 2021. A seasoned sports journalist, Schecter first joined Seton Hall in 2017 as a professional-in-residence. He also serves as faculty advisor for the award-winning student newspaper, The Setonian.
Schecter succeeds Founding Executive Director Jane McManus, whose diligent work over the past 20 months created a foundation of success. McManus, a 30-year sports journalist, will pursue other opportunities, including her recent prestigious appointment as editor of The Year’s Best Sports Writing 2024.
The Center for Sports Media, created to highlight the critical intersection of sports, media and society, was established with a gift of $2 million from executive founder and ESPN icon Bob Ley ’76. The Center’s mission reflects Ley’s pioneering work on the long-running ESPN show Outside the Lines, which won multiple Emmys and a Peabody Award during his tenure. The Center’s activities provide students with an interdisciplinary foundation for academic training and theory with practical experience in the rapidly evolving sports media industry, while also drawing professional and scholarly attention to the industry’s impact on contemporary social life.
"B.J. Schecter has played an integral role in the establishment of the Center and I’m thrilled that he’s stepping in to lead the charge," said Ley. "I know he'll excel in his larger role, that his leadership will shape our students' experiences as they gain the skills and values from our programs to be leaders themselves in sports media in the 21st century."
Added Ley, "I also want to express my deep personal and professional appreciation for the tireless work performed by Jane McManus as our founding executive director. She has set us on a proper course."
Bryan Crable, Ph.D., dean of the College of Human Development, Culture, and Media, agreed. "The world of media, in all its various forms, is evolving rapidly – and sports media is no exception," he said. "In fact, as Outside the Lines consistently demonstrated, changes in sports and coverage of sports reflect the pressing concerns of the day, which means that the Center equips our students to not only take leading roles in the industry, but also in their communities. In this way, the Center provides Seton Hall students with professional opportunities and access to expertise that are simply unparalleled."
Schecter, who oversees all editorial and business operations for Baseball America, has extensive experience at the highest levels of media, having spent 20 years as a reporter, writer and editor at Sports Illustrated before leaving the brand in September 2016. His responsibilities included running the magazine's investigative and enterprise unit, managing content and columnists for the website, working closely with editors and writers at the website and magazine to integrate SI and SI.com, overseeing cross-platform projects and managing Sports Illustrated's internship program. He was also the creator and editor of the college football website Campus Rush, which launched in the summer of 2015 and included a student correspondent program at more than 75 universities across the country.
As a writer, Schecter covered college football and college basketball. As an editor, he edited college football, college basketball, Major League Baseball and several special projects, including Crime in College Football, Gangs in Sports, the 50 Most Influential Minorities in Sports, the Great American Sports Atlas, the nation’s top high school programs and more.
Prior to Sports Illustrated, Schecter spent five years at The Boston Globe, where he was the lead high school writer and also covered colleges.
"The Center for Sports Media is well-positioned to become one of the best interdisciplinary sports media programs in the nation," said Schecter. "Our students have a unique opportunity to drive the conversation and innovate. With our proximity to New York City and a close collaboration with disciplines across the University, I am honored to lead the Center and create opportunities for our students. I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of working closely with Bob Ley since early 2018 and there’s no better example of excellence for our students. Bob and Jane McManus helped set the Center off in a terrific direction, and I can’t wait to build on an outstanding foundation."
Since its inception, the Center for Sports Media has hosted some of the world’s leading practitioners in the field of sports, sports business and sports media. Its inaugural in-person Sports Media Speaker Series event, "Alex Rodriguez: Beyond Baseball," brought the MLB star-turned television analyst, businessman and professional sports team owner to campus for a major University presentation as well as in-depth conversations in student workshops along with Ley and Bardia Shah-Rais '95, vice president of production at Fox Sports.
McManus brought Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss to campus to discuss "Equity, Influence and the Next Generation in Sports." The event was widely covered in the media, including NJ.com, The Record, Yahoo News and Ms. Magazine.
In addition to these headline public events, this past fall the Center welcomed Stephen A. Smith to campus for a private, student-only discussion about sports media. Following Smith, the Center brought Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster known for his versatile play-by-play skills, who discussed his craft with students, along with his new book, Calling the Game. The Center also hosted Peter King, a renowned NFL writer, NBC reporter, analyst and the iconic founder of Sports Illustrated’s "Monday Morning Quarterback." King dove into the nuances of "Covering the NFL 101," offering students a window into the world of covering the NFL.
Other events, speaker presentations and roundtables hosted by or in conjunction with the Center over the last few years included Bob Costas on "The Changing Face of Sports Media"; Stephen A. Smith (twice); Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, Marc Werner of the MLB Network, and Jayson Stark of ESPN; Paul Fichtenbaum and Dana O'Neil of The Athletic; Former NBA Commissioner David Stern; New York Times bestselling authors Jeff Benedict and Ben Reiter; a master class with Bob Ley; Tom Verducci, Doug Glanville and Dontrelle Willis; and Michael Smith and Elizabeth Newman on diversity in American sports.
"Given the vision and activities of the Center for Sports Media, I could not be more excited about its future," Crable said. "Bob Ley did so much to shift the conversation in sports toward questions of community, of ethics, even of justice. It seems only fitting, then, that Seton Hall honor Bob’s legacy in and through the Center for Sports Media. Under Jane’s direction, I am proud of what the Center has already accomplished, and I could not be more excited about its next chapter, with B.J. at the helm. As a leading voice in the conversation on sports, media, and society, the Center ensures that our students will chart the future for the profession, and for American society as a whole."
About Seton Hall's Center for Sports Media
The Center for Sports Media, housed within the College of Human Development, Culture, and Media, works at the intersection of sports, media and social life, reflecting the legacy of its founder, Bob Ley, and his groundbreaking ESPN show, Outside the Lines. Established in Fall 2021, the Center is working to redefine how students are trained in media, communications and sports business, by engaging with the sports community, while also producing groundbreaking content through University channels and establishing innovative partnerships with major media outlets. Through the activities generated and inspired by the Center for Sports Media, Seton Hall continues its tradition of innovation in higher education, and underscores its commitment to experiential learning, ethical leadership and community engagement.
About the College of Human Development, Culture, and Media
Launched in Summer 2023, Seton Hall’s College of Human Development, Culture, and Media (CHDCM) embodies the University’s commitment to pedagogical innovation, intellectual ferment and community engagement. Uniting scholars and students from four dynamic departments — Communication, Media, and the Arts; Education Leadership, Management, and Policy; Educational Studies; and Professional Psychology and Family Therapy — the College is the new home of cutting-edge, transdisciplinary inquiry into the stickiest problems of our time.
The faculty, staff and students of the College seek to improve the human condition by collaborating across distinct fields that uniquely complement one another, thereby preparing the next generation of dynamic leaders poised to tackle contemporary social challenges and opportunities. Expression underpins all facets of the integrated College’s portfolio — media as a form of education and artistic expression; teaching and learning as modes of creative expression; expression and expressibility as critical to counseling and therapeutic treatment; and self-expression as a vehicle of social agency. With enrollment at approximately 1,550 total students, both graduate and undergraduate, CHDCM is the second largest college at Seton Hall University, with approximately 70 full-time faculty and 125 adjunct faculty, and houses two innovative co-curricular initiatives, the Center for Sports Media and the Institute for Communication and Religion.