By MICHAEL FRAGALE
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University Deputy Director of Athletics Keli Zinn has been named to the prestigious Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class of 2019.
Representing a broad cross section of the sports business field, the honorees of the 20th annual Forty Under 40 class constitute a generation of leaders in the industry. SBJ’s announcement of its latest 40 executives are recognized for excellence and innovation in their careers, all before the age of 40.
Those selected bring an entrepreneurial spirit to their work in media, individual leagues, professional and college teams, sports agents and corporate partners in technology, ticketing, finance, marketing and sponsorship. This year’s group also branches into new sectors in e-sports and sports betting.
All 40 executives will be featured in the March 25 issue of Sports Business Journal, where their career paths, successes and stories will be told. They will be honored at the annual Forty Under 40 gala, April 4, at the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, Calif. That event comes at the conclusion of the annual CAA World Congress of Sports, April 3-4.
“I am honored to be recognized among such an outstanding group of professionals. This moment is largely a result of the people along my career path who afforded me the opportunities to grow and develop as an administrator in a profession of which I am so grateful to be a part,” Zinn said. “I want to thank the Sports Business Journal along with Shane Lyons, President Gordon Gee, Oliver Luck, Debbie Yow, Stan Wilcox and Brad Cox for all that they’ve done throughout the years to continue to make my dream a reality.”
At West Virginia, Zinn is responsible for assisting the director of athletics with the overall administration of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. She provides strategic direction and operations management to a department that includes 18 intercollegiate programs, 250 coaches and staff and a budget exceeding $93 million. As the department’s primary liaison to the University’s central administration, she works closely with WVU’s general counsel, strategic initiatives, finance and human resources. Zinn serves as the administrator to WVU’s football program with oversight to the daily operations, including but not limited to, finances, capital projects and infrastructure, contract negotiations, game day and postseason administration.
In December of 2014, WVU President E. Gordon Gee appointed Zinn the school’s interim director of athletics as she became the first female to lead the University’s athletic department.
“Keli is my right hand. I have said it a thousand times that I cannot do my job without her assistance,” WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons said. “Keli is in the trenches daily helping to run this department. Her leadership and work ethic are vital to our overall success. I have great trust and admiration for her, and this award is quite deserving. Not only am I happy for her, I am quite proud of her.”
Zinn came to West Virginia in 2010 as associate athletic director for governance and compliance from the University of Maryland, where she joined the compliance staff in 2004 as compliance coordinator and was named assistant athletic director for compliance in 2005. While at Maryland, Zinn worked in the day-to-day operations to ensure compliance for the athletics department and more than 700 student-athletes in 27 varsity sports programs.
Before Maryland, Zinn served as compliance assistant at the BIG EAST Conference. She also has been involved in numerous national, conference and University committees, including the National Association for Athletics Compliance (NAAC) Education Committee, the NAAC Reasonable Standards Committee, the NAAC Professional Development Committee, the Atlantic Coast Conference Committee on Constitution and Bylaws, the BIG EAST Conference Sport and Championship Committee for Men’s and Women’s Tennis, Big 12 Bylaw Committee, the WVU Office of the President’s Social Justice Committee and the WVU College of Physical Activity and Social Sciences Advisory Committee. She is currently serving as a member of the NCAA Division I Legislative Committee and Chair of the NCAA Division I Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement.
In 2018, Zinn was named the recipient of WVU’s College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award. She was recognized by College AD’s NEXT UP series and selected among the SportsBusiness Journal’s Game Changers in 2016.
Zinn is a graduate of West Virginia University with her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in sport management. She is a native of Petersburg, West Virginia and resides in Morgantown with her husband Nathaniel. The 2019 Sports Business Journal’s prestigious Forty under 40 class consists of:
Christopher Benyarko, NBA
Daniel Cohen, Octagon
Gideon Cohen, The Montag Group
Russ D’Souza, SeatGeek
Camilo Durana, MLS
David Foster, NBPA
Lloyd Frischer, CAA Sports
Libby Geist, ESPN
Michael Goldstein, Mastercard
Al Guido, San Francisco 49ers / Elevate
Amanda Herald, NFL
Broderick Hicks, Wasserman
Bill Hudock, Genesco Sports Enterprises
Martin Jarmond, Boston College
Shelby Jordan, Legends
Stephanie Joukoff, Intel
Tucker Kain, Los Angeles Dodgers
Matt Kalish, DraftKings
Brian Kantarian, JPMorgan Chase
Tim Katz, YouTube
Chris Lee, U.S. Bank
Zach Leonsis, Monumental Sports & Entertainment
Devi Mahadevia, Facebook
Will McIntosh, Golf Channel
Chad Menefee, Luker on Trends
Nate Nanzer, Blizzard Entertainment
Peter Nelson, HBO
Ashley Page, Learfield IMG College
Jake Reynolds, Philadelphia 76ers / New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center
Whalen Rozelle, Riot Games
Patrick Ryan, Eventellect
Frank Saviano, Proskauer
Rob Schneider, Learfield IMG College
Daniel Sillman, Relevent
Sara Slane, American Gaming Association
Joseph Smith, Bank of America
Fabian Stechel, Evolution Media
Eric Sudol, Dallas Cowboys
Morgan Sword, MLB
Keli Zinn, West Virginia University
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