Overview: The vertical partnerships concept engages youth, college and elite participants and audiences on a sport-by-sport basis. To date, there has been little exploration of sport-specific partnerships in terms of content sharing, revenue generation and commercial broadcasting. Oftentimes, collegiate Olympic and Paralympic rights are tied to football and basketball commercial agreements. The USOPC Think Tank believes creative vertical partnerships across the NCAA, schools, conferences, the USOPC and NGBs may increase awareness, expand sport exposure and test commercial opportunities.

2021 focus: The USOPC Think Tank is exploring an NCAA/NGB shared championship event to pilot a vertical partnership. National governing bodies have vast experience hosting youth and elite events, which if partnered with an NCAA championship may expand attendance, viewership, exposure and revenue opportunities. Increased awareness can help unify each sport community in an effort to sustain the broad-based sport championship structure. 

Horizon: The USOPC Think Tank will further explore the current commercial rights structure and the opportunity for increased collaboration across media/commercial partners to promote the value of Olympic and Paralympic sports. There is a need to increase national-level storytelling, which will require pilots to share content, test cross-promotion and build marketing interest for Olympic and Paralympic sports. The USOPC Think Tank also will explore opportunities to celebrate college contributions to Team USA at the national and campus levels.



Erin McDermott Harvard athletic director

Erin McDermott
Harvard University
Director of Athletics

Sho Nakamori headshot

Sho Nakamori
Stanford University
Former National Team Member (Gymnastics)

Ray Anderson Arizona State headshot

Ray Anderson
Arizona State University
Vice President for University Athletics

Bubba Cunningham North Carolina headshot

Bubba Cunningham
University of North Carolina
Director of Athletics

Don Bruce University of Tennessee professor

Don Bruce
University of Tennessee
Haslam College of Business Professor

Lauren Crandall, Wake Forest University

Lauren Crandall
Wake Forest University
Three-time Olympian (Field Hockey)

Jim Knowlton UCLA headshot

Jim Knowlton
University of California, Berkeley
Director of Athletics

Brett Gorman USRowing headshot

Brett Gorman
Director of Coaching Education and National Team Coach

Kathleen McNeelly NCAA headshot

Kathleen McNeely
Senior VP of Administration and Chief Financial Officer


Greg Byrne Alabama Headshot

Greg Byrne
University of Alabama
Athletic Director

Val Ackerman Big East headshot

Val Ackerman
Big East Conference

Sandy Barbour Penn State headshot

Sandy Barbour
Pennsylvania State University
Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics

Sean Frazier NIU athletic director

Sean Frazier
Northern Illinois University
Associate VP and Director of Athletics

Rich Bender USA Wrestling headshot

Rich Bender
USA Wrestling
Executive Director and USOPC Board Member

Sierra Schmidt Michigan headshot

Sierra Schmidt
University of Michigan Student-Athlete
National Team member (Swimming)

Chaunte Lowe, 4-time Olympian

Chaunte Lowe
Georgia Tech
Four-time Olympian (Track & Field)

Caroline Rebello Evolution Media Capital

Caroline Rebello
Evolution Media Capital
Managing Director

Jessica Heims Northern Iowa student-athlete

Jessica Heims
University of Northern Iowa
Paralympian (Para track and field)

About icon
roster icon
media icon