Pac-12: Lydia Murphy-Stephans

Neuheisel, Lott, Sanders join network

May, 9, 2012
The Pac-12 Networks announced Wednesday the hiring of Ronnie Lott, Rick Neuheisel and Summer Sanders as on-air personalities and the "faces" of the network, which is schedule to start broadcasting in August.

A couple of quick notes:
  • The network is likely to release its schedule -- including 35 football games -- in the middle of June.
  • Neuheisel said he was "gung ho" with his "new direction" but wouldn't rule out a return to coaching.
  • Best line from the teleconference came from Neuheisel: "I told [Lydia Murphy-Stephans, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Pac-12 Networks] when we met that if your resume require that you've either been fired or booed by every team in the conference, then I'm certainly your leading candidate."
  • Murphy-Stephans said there will be no Pac-12 news program -- such as a Pac-12 Network "SportsCenter" -- this first year but it remains a possibility for the future.

From the release:

Lott played four years at USC (1977-80) and helped lead the Trojans to two Rose Bowl victories and the 1978 national championship. He was a consensus All-American as a senior before being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the 1981 NFL Draft. During his 14 years in the NFL, he developed the reputation as one of the most feared defensive players in league history, leading the 49ers to eight division titles and four Super Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002 and two years later was part of the 2002 I-A Class of the College Football Hall of Fame. Lott previously worked as an NFL analyst with FOX Sports from 1996-98.

Sanders is one of the most prolific swimmers in Pac-12 and U.S. history who has become a popular on air personality. In her two years competing at Stanford she compiled six NCAA individual titles and four relay championships. She became the first swimmer in Stanford history to win back-to-back NCAA Swimmer of the Year honors (1991-92) and helped lead the Cardinal to the national championship in 1992. Later, Sanders became a national sensation at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, winning four medals, including two golds in the 200-meter butterfly and 400-meter medley relay. Following the Olympics, the Roseville, CA native launched a successful broadcasting career that brought her to all four major networks – ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC – covering the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, the NBA and WNBA and tennis, among other sports. She hosted NBC’s NBA Inside Stuff for seven years and has worked as a correspondent for the Today Show and Good Morning America. She also served as the host of Nickelodeon’s hit game show Figure It Out.

Neuheisel was a walk-on quarterback at UCLA, who became a starter as a senior in 1983. After a slow start, he rallied the Bruins to six wins in their last seven games, including a big one over cross-town rival USC to clinch the Conference title and a berth into the Rose Bowl. His four touchdowns led UCLA to a 45-9 win over No. 4 Illinois and earned him Rose Bowl Most Valuable Player honors. Following his playing career, which included two years in the USFL, Neuheisel went into coaching and he served as the head coach at three Pac-12 universities: Colorado (1995-98), Washington (1999-2002) and UCLA (2008-11). During his head coaching tenure, he posted an 87-59 record, went 4-3 in bowl games, including guiding Washington to a Rose Bowl title in 2000.

The Pac-12 Networks consist of one national and six regional networks that will provide 24/7 access to Pac-12 teams and universities. The networks will televise approximately 350 live events nationally, including 35 football games, more than 100 men’s basketball games, 40 women’s basketball games and hundreds of Pac-12 Olympic sports.

Conference names head of Pac-12 Networks

November, 28, 2011
The Pac-12 announced Monday the hiring of former ABC Sports and MSG Media Executive Lydia Murphy-Stephans as the head of the Pac-12 Networks.

Murphy-Stephans, by the way, is a former Olympic speedskater.

Here's the official release.
Lydia Murphy-Stephans, one of the most versatile and accomplished executives in the media industry, with a background that includes leadership roles in worldwide network television and both national and regional cable networks, has been named Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Pac-12 Networks, it was announced today.

As head of the network, Murphy-Stephans will oversee the development, launch and management of the Pac-12 Networks, with an emphasis on all programming and production. She will hire and manage a team to program and produce live events in virtually every sport from all 12 campuses, creating studio shows and other original programming. She brings more that 25 years of experience in network television, including leadership positions in programming and production at ABC Sports as well as building a network from the ground up. She will be based in Northern California.

“Lydia’s depth and breadth of experience is as impressive as anyone’s in the media industry,” Pac-12 Enterprises President Gary Stevenson said. “She has been a programming leader at established networks like ABC Sports and MSG Network and led the launch of Oxygen Media when it was a start-up. She has a rare understanding and appreciation of all college sports and a passion for quality production. We are very fortunate and excited to have her leading the Pac-12 Networks.”

Prior to joining the Pac-12 Networks, Murphy-Stephans was Founder and Partner of All Access Media Partners, a multi-platform media consulting firm that provided end-to-end solutions in media, programming, production and marketing. She launched the firm in 2010 after spending 23 years in network and cable television.

A former Olympic speed skater, Murphy-Stephans began her career as a news producer for WLUC in Marquette, Michigan before joining ABC Sports to work on the network’s coverage of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. In 1994, she was elevated to Vice President of Programming and Acquisitions at ABC, becoming the first woman in network sports television history to be named Vice President. Her duties included negotiating worldwide media rights to events, creating original programming and overseeing the network’s flagship series ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

In 1999, Murphy-Stephans left ABC to become President and Executive Producer of Oxygen Sports at Oxygen Media, where she played a vital role in the launch of the new network and oversaw the creation of the sports department. Seven years later, she was named Executive Vice President of Programming and Production for MSG Media, the television, radio and new media division of Madison Square Garden. During her tenure at MSG, Murphy-Stephans managed the network’s programming, production, marketing and operations and led her team to a record-setting 46 Emmy awards.

“I’m thrilled to be part of this new venture. The Pac-12 Networks will produce and deliver an unprecedented amount of quality content from the 12 universities. It’s an amazing undertaking that will allow us to showcase each of the schools and their highly successful sports programs,” Murphy-Stephans said. “Gary Stevenson and Larry Scott are two of the most accomplished executives in sports and I am excited to be joining their team and working with the Pac-12.”

In July, the Pac-12 announced the creation of Pac-12 Networks, which will include a national network and six regional networks, in conjunction with four of the nation's largest cable operators: Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks. The innovative arrangement, set to begin in August 2012, marks the first time a U.S. collegiate conference or any other programmer has launched a collection of networks across a variety of platforms rather than a sole network. And it includes “TV everywhere” rights, permitting the networks to be viewed outside customers’ homes on any digital device, such as smartphones and tablet computers, creating a virtual “Pac-12 Everywhere.”

The Pac-12 Networks will provide unprecedented exposure for the Conference’s athletic and academic programs, producing a total of 850 live events annually – 350 on the national feed and AN ADDITIONAL 500 on the regional feeds -- including every football game and every men’s basketball game that isn’t carried by national telecast partners ESPN and FOX. Additional events will include spring football, and every sport played by Pac-12 programs including all conference championships.