EDITOR’S NOTE: EVP Programming & Original Content, Burke Magnus, salutes Pete Derzis, SVP College Sports Programming and ESPN Events, who is retiring from ESPN this week after 31 years
Pete Derzis has been instrumental in ESPN’s success in college athletics for more than three decades. As he enters retirement this week – on his 31st anniversary at ESPN, we want to celebrate and congratulate him on an exceptional career.
Pete’s contributions to college sports span more than 40 years, beginning with his time at the University of Alabama Birmingham as an associate athletic director through his current role as Senior Vice President of College Sports Programming and ESPN Events.
In the early ‘90s, Pete oversaw ESPN Regional Television, the largest syndicator of college sports programming – which included the production of national, regional, and local programs for a number of top conferences, as well as more than 1,200 college sports event telecasts.
In helping ESPN cement its position as the media industry leader in college sports, Pete was also instrumental in growing and maintaining the ESPN Events division, which now owns and operates 35 events, including four early-season college football games, 17 bowl games, 11 college basketball events, a collegiate softball event and the College Football Awards Show.
Geographically, the ESPN Events footprint spans more than 13 states and the Bahamas, and, just last month, Pete helped launch the newest event on our college football opening weekend slate – the Red Tails Classic, an HBCU showcase game that will honor the Tuskegee Airmen who fought in World War II.
Pete’s leadership and expertise also helped ensure the success of our Charlotte office, as he and other senior executives managed the day-to-day operations in North Carolina. What started as the ERT building in Charlotte more than two decades ago is now home to hundreds of ESPN employees spanning more than a dozen departments, and serves as both the home base of ESPN Events and the headquarters of SEC Network.
This past year, our ESPN family experienced so many challenges, and I am personally very grateful to Pete for guiding us through various cancellations and postponements. I commend him and his team for their dedication in bringing quality events to fans everywhere in the midst of such unprecedented circumstances.
Pete is a consummate professional and a wonderful teammate. His career accomplishments are too extensive to mention everything, but some of the highlights include: traveling the Armed Forces Classic to various military bases around the world; ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange ahead of the college basketball season; and negotiating industry-leading agreements with conference and other business partners while also maintaining these key relationships.
Great video call w/ @ESPNEvents & all 17 bowls which includes the @GasparillaBowl. Focused on the importance of sports, but keeping family and health as the priority. Our leadership is leading! Grateful for @PeteDerzis & his leadership team! 🏴☠️🏈 pic.twitter.com/kqGLdTkoLh
— Scott Glaser (@Glaser_GB) April 14, 2020
— Camellia Bowl (@CamelliaBowl) November 14, 2014