ESPN has named longtime collegiate administrator Michael Thompson Jr. to the role of vice president, programming & acquisitions, working primarily on ESPN’s college networks properties. In his new position, Thompson will serve as the point of contact for ESPN’s business with the Southeastern Conference, including responsibility for SEC Network’s programming strategy, content acquisitions, live event scheduling and P&L, as well as setting the long-term strategy for SEC Network and SEC Network+, and overseeing content and publication for SECSports.com, the conference’s website. He will also oversee programming strategy and scheduling for Longhorn Network, ESPN’s 24-hour network devoted to the University of Texas.
“College sports, and especially the Southeastern Conference, have been a common thread throughout my and my family’s lives for decades, and I’m thrilled for this new opportunity at ESPN,” Thompson said. “It’s really the best of both worlds – the opportunity to work with the talented team at ESPN on compelling programming, powerful storytelling and innovative ways to reach our audience, combined with continuing to work with Commissioner Sankey, Charlie Hussey and the incredible staff at the SEC office, as well as my colleagues on campuses across the country.”
Thompson brings a wealth of experience from across the college sports landscape, combining for more than a decade in the executive ranks at both Ole Miss and Texas A&M. He was most recently the Deputy Athletics Director for External Relations and Business Development at Texas A&M, spending nearly three years in his role alongside Director of Athletics Ross Bjork. Thompson served in a similar role at Ole Miss with Bjork, and notched a nine-year tenure in Oxford.
“We’re so excited to welcome Michael to ESPN,” said Ilan Ben-Hanan, ESPN senior vice president, programming & acquisitions. “His deep connections and strong relationships throughout the college sports community will serve us well as we continue to grow and evolve our college networks business.”
Thompson carries a strong reputation as an innovative and collaborative leader, having recently served as the President of NACMA (National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators) and boasting an expansive resume in branding, marketing and sponsorship in the private sector before transitioning to intercollegiate athletics in 2010. He’s an award-winning executive, managing a team that was honored with the 2019 Technology Innovation Award by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).
At A&M, he led unified efforts designed to maximize revenue potential, expand the Aggie brand both nationally and globally, and further enhanced opportunities for engagement. Additionally, Thompson spearheaded cross-departmental initiatives with multiple entities regarding external communications and marketing, ticketing, licensing and merchandising, information technology and multimedia rights.
While in Oxford, Thompson was the SEC Network point of contact and served as the university’s representative on the SEC Fan Experience working group, leading the team’s research efforts. For seven years, he was also an adjunct professor in integrated marketing communications at Ole Miss, his alma mater.
“I’m incredibly grateful for the support of my family, Ross’s leadership and trust over the past 12 years, and ESPN’s confidence in me for this role,” Thompson shared. “I can’t wait to get started.”
Thompson will be based at SEC Network’s headquarters in Charlotte, N.C.