Steve Mariucci | Former NFL Head Coach/Sports Analyst NFL GameDay Morning
In April 2009, Mariucci was recognized for his work as an NFL Network analyst with his first Sports Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Analyst category. Mariucci’s first taste of broadcasting came during NFL Network’s extensive coverage of Super Bowl XL from Detroit, where Mariucci served as an expert analyst during the week leading up to the game and on game day as part of NFL Network’s 5.5-hour Super Bowl pre-game show.
The NFL Network icon secured sit downs with notable NFL personalities such as Brett Favre, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, John Madden, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo and the late legendary Bill Walsh, in his final interview. Mariucci’s interview with Rice was highlighted as part of NFL Network 2010 coverage from the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a one-hour special entitled, Jerry Rice: Catching History.
A well-known figure among NFL and college football coaches, Mariucci was an NFL head coach for nine years, spending six with the San Francisco 49ers and three with the Detroit Lions compiling a career record of 72 wins and 67 losses. He led the 49ers to four playoff appearances including a trip to the NFC Championship Game in 1997.
Granger Smith | Country Music Artist and Co-Founder of Yee Yee Apparel
Smith began his professional recording career at the age of 19 (he had been playing gigs on the Texas circuit since he was 14). He recorded his debut album, Waiting on Forever, during his freshman year at Texas A&M, and signed a writing and publishing deal with EMI Music Publishing a couple of years later. He left college during his junior year to relocate to Nashville, where he learned the writing and recording ropes in Music City while continuing to gig in the local bars and clubs. Smith self-released a second album, Memory RD., in 2005, along with Pockets of Pesos that same year, and even managed to graduate from Texas A&M. Livin’ Like a Lonestar followed a year later in 2006, with We Bleed Maroon arriving in 2007.
By this time, Smith was back in his home state of Texas, where he gigged and toured constantly, and he became a major star on the Texas circuit. Don’t Listen to the Radio was released in 2009, with a pair of albums, Live at the Chicken: 11-20-11 and Poets & Prisoners, arriving three years later in 2012. Dirt Road Driveway appeared in 2013, and included a pair of tracks, “”Country Boy Love”” and “”The Country Boy Song,”” attributed to Smith’s comedic alter ego Earl Dibbles, Jr. The year 2015 saw the release of 4×4, a four-song EP, which peaked at number six on the Country Albums chart and rose to 51 on the Top 200 Albums listing, while “”Backroad Song”” became a Top Ten country single, peaking at number one on Billboard’s Country Airplay charts. In January 2016, Smith was named Hottest Artist to Watch in 2016 by the online magazine Taste of Country, and his major-label debut, Remington, saw release in March 2016. The following year Smith released his ninth full-length outing, When the Good Guys Win, which featured the single “”Happens Like That.”” In 2018, Smith made the film They Were There, A Hero’s Documentary and released a soundtrack to accompany it.
During 2020, Granger Smith released a pair of EPs called Country Things, Vol. 1 and Country Things, Vol. 2, combining the two EPs as a full-length LP also called Country Things at the end of the year.
Barry Zito | Former MLB Pitcher/Songwriter/Musical Artist
A native of Las Vegas, Nevada, Barry Zito relocated to San Diego, California with his family so he could pursue a career in baseball. This paid off, with Zito becoming a star pitcher at UC Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Pierce College. He went pro in 1999, when he was drafted by the Oakland Athletics. Over the next seven seasons he stayed with the A’s, having a career-making year in 2002 that led to him winning the Cy Young Award. He signed with the San Francisco Giants in 2007 and stayed with them through 2013, finishing off his professional career in 2015 back with the Oakland A’s.
During his time as a pro player, Zito entertained himself by playing guitar. In 2002, his sister Sally asked him to play in her band during the off season, and by the end of the decade he started writing his own material. Once he retired from baseball, he decided to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter. His debut EP, No Secrets, appeared in January 2017; it hit number 39 on Billboard’s Country Album Sales chart and 15 on the Americana/Folk Album Sales chart.
John Loar | Managing Director of Music City Baseball
He led the acquisition efforts on behalf of investment groups for two Major League Baseball franchises and executed both the acquisition and sale of the Seattle Seahawks. Loar served as Vice President of Blackhawk Corporation, one of the country’s largest residential and commercial real estate developers.
Joe Scarlett | Former President and Chairman, Tractor Supply Company
In 1982 Scarlett played a key role in the initiative to return the company to profitability through improved customer service and focused product selection as part of a classic leveraged buyout. He was instrumental in developing the company culture which today is admired and often copied. In 1994 Joe led the successful effort to take the company public.
Tractor Supply Company was honored by Forbes as one of the “Best Managed Companies in America” and Scarlett was recognized as Ernst & Young’s Southeast Entrepreneur of the Year. Joe also served twenty years on the board of the nation’s largest retail trade organization, including four as its chairman.
Michael Knox | SVP PeerMusic/Multi-Platinum Producer/Host of Knox Country 360
In 2018, Michael formed Music Knox Records (in conjunction with BMG) and also launched the syndicated radio show Knox Country 360 and the Knox Country app in 2020. In 2022, Knox and co-host Shalacy Griffin were nominated for National Weekly On-Air Personality of the Year from the Academy of Country Music.
Michael currently serves as Senior Vice President of peermusic Nashville and has previously served on the CMA and ACM Board of Directors.
Gator Harrison | iHeartCountry brand coordinator/Senior VP Programming Nashville, iHeartMedia
Gator also serves as Brand Coordinator for iHeartMedia’s Nashville-based iHeartCountry team, which has 150 Country broadcast stations across the United States. iHeartMedia’s Country stations reach more than 110 million. Country music listeners per month, making it the largest Country broadcast radio group in America. As Brand Coordinator, Gator uses his more than thirty years of programming and on-air experience to provide iHeartMedia’s Country brands with strategic guidance and product leadership. He also works on the iHeartCountry Festival annual mega-concert that brings the biggest names in Country music to one stage for one incredible night.
Prior to joining iHeartMedia Nashville as SVPP in 2016, Gator served as the Senior Vice President of Programming for iHeartMedia Chattanooga, where he oversaw all aspects of on-air and online programming for the market’s five radio station brands. The Sparta, Tennessee native began his radio career in 1986 at his hometown’s WSMT-FM, where he was eventually named Program Director and Morning Drive host. In 1990, Gator moved to WYHY- FM in Nashville and spent 6 years at the brand including working as the Afternoon Drive host and Music Director. While there, he was nominated for a Billboard Magazine Air Personality of the Year award in 1996. Gator moved to Country music station WGSQ-FM that same year to work as as program Director and on-air personality. Over the next 14 years, his morning show was ranked #1 locally and in the Top 10 for radio morning shows nationwide, including being the highest rated morning show in America in 2005.
Throughout his career, Gator has received more than 35 national broadcast awards recognizing his excellence in broadcasting from national organizations including the Academy of Country Music Awards, Country Music Association Awards, CRB-Country Aircheck Awards and more. He lives with his wife, Tennille, and two children in Nashville.
Paul Coffey | Vice Provost & Dean of Community Engagement, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Previous roles at SAIC include Associate Dean of Academic Administration; Executive Director, Undergraduate and Graduate Divisions; Executive Director, Undergraduate Division; and Associate Director of Admissions. He also taught studio classes at SAIC from 1992 to 1998.
Tiffany Kerns | Executive Director, CMA Foundation and CMA Vice President, Community Outreach
Established as the philanthropic arm to the Country Music Association (CMA), the CMA Foundation has invested over $25 million into music education programs across all 50 states. As executive director, Kerns is responsible for the growth, development, and execution of the nonprofit’s charitable investments by creating strategic partnerships, working with policy leaders and implementing an impact-driven grant process.
Kerns works with each and every grantee organization to provide strategic planning, compliance, project management, and community impact. She oversees advocacy efforts for the CMA Foundation at the state and federal level, which includes working with more than a dozen community partners to elevate the cause.
Kerns also oversees the CMA’s collegiate program CMA EDU, which currently has 25 collegiate chapters nationwide and works to educate students on the music industry by providing opportunities to hear from industry professionals and participate in a hands-on work experience alongside marketing and tour production.
Before joining the CMA Foundation, Kerns was the director of development at The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. For over six years, Kerns filled various roles in special events and development. Driven by her passion to grow the organization and fueled by her exceptional leadership skills, single-handedly, Kerns implemented new fundraising initiatives and opportunities across the Southeast and Pacific Northwest regions. After expanding her footprint in nonprofit management and learning the biotech industry in San Francisco, Kerns moved to Nashville to develop and strengthen the donor portfolio for CFF which ultimately led her to CMA.
Kerns is a graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville, where she received a BA in Political Science and a minor in Business Administration.
Tim Hunze | Vice President of Publishing Big Machine Music
His experience includes work with current hitmakers and hall of fame inductees such as Jordan Davis, Kip Moore, Chris Janson, Joey Hendricks, Justin Wilson, Tom Shapiro and Tony Martin, among others. Notably, Hunze managed Bobby Pinson (2009 BMI Songwriter of the Year) and Brett James (2009 ASCAP Songwriter of the Year). His previous stops include Anthem Entertainment, Parallel Entertainment, Stage Three Music and legendary publisher Hamstein Music. A graduate of MTSU’s Recording Industry program and a member of Leadership Music’s Class of 2013, Hunze currently serves on the board of the Association of Independent Music Publishers and as the host for their AIMP Nashville: Pubcast.
Jordan Pettit | Director of Artist Relations & Programming Strategy Opry Entertainment Group
Jordan previously had founded RedBrandana, where he was responsible for building artist awareness and creating experiential branding opportunities. Prior to founding RedBrandana, Jordan was the Vice President & National Director of National Radio Marketing at Warner Music Group in Nashville.
Ellen Pryor | Director of Communications, Frist Art Museum
Prior to joining the Frist Art Museum, she worked in entertainment marketing in music industry, in economic development and tourism for the State of Tennessee, politics, and the banking industry.
She is a trustee of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and is a past president of the organization’s Mid-South Region. She is a member of the board of directors of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp where she serves on the executive committee and on the board of the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville.
She was named a Jazz Ambassador by the Nashville Jazz Workshop and is on the community advisory body at radio station WFSK-FM at Fisk University.
Tom Carlucci | Managing Partner/Chair of the Litigation Department at Foley & Lardner LLP
Prior to joining the firm, Thomas practiced as a federal prosecutor for more than 10 years, serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, California and prior to that served as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division in their Honors’ Program. Thomas has served as trial counsel for more than 50 civil and criminal cases. He also served as a trial instructor for the Department of Justice.
He is former chair of the firm’s White Collar Defense and Corporate Compliance & Enforcement Practices, and a member of the Health Care Industry Team. Thomas is a member of the Government Enforcement Defense & Investigations Practice and the Life Sciences Industry Team.
Thomas has also been recognized by the national attorney review, Chambers USA for his work within White Collar Crime & Investigations from 2015 through 2021. He was also selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the field of Criminal Defense: White-Collar (2010-2022).
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