Women’s History Month Interview Series: Q&A with espnW Vice President, Carol Stiff
Carol Stiff, current VP of Content Program and Integration at espnW, has been with ESPN for over 20 years. One year ago she moved to espnW, previously she was working her way up in ESPN’s programming department. There, Stiff oversaw the scheduling and acquisition of NCAA Women’s Basketball, NCAA Championship Series (College World Series, football, lacrosse, Women’s Basketball), WNBA, and more.
“I managed all our NCAA Championships, I had men and women’s championships,” she said. “Everything from women’s volleyball, women’s soccer, men’s ice hockey, baseball…I was also in charge of managing the WNBA relationship which I have been a part of since the first tip in 1997, which was in LA.”
Ever since she was a child, sports has always been something Stiff was involved in. Did sports interest her always as a career path as well?
“It has always been a part of my DNA, and then I went to college,” said Stiff. “I wanted to become a teacher, a physical educator. Since I graduated in ’83, my first job was coaching college field hockey at Western Connecticut State University and I assisted with the basketball program… In ‘89, ‘90 I decided to go in a different direction with my career and I pivoted out of the coaching ranks and teaching ranks, and came to ESPN.”
As a woman in the (previously dominated male) sports industry, what is it like to get involved? Is it harder to get into a career as a female? Obviously every female who is successful in the sports industry will have their own views and opinions. Someone behind the scenes will think differently than someone who is on air (despite working for ESPN, Stiff never wanted to opt for that career). She mentioned,
“I think it’s become a lot easier. I’ve seen more and more women in the truck, I’ve seen more and more women making the calls in the truck, we’re seeing more women within the telecast and not just sidelines. We have a few that are able to call the games and be a play-by-play…I have actually seen a lot of growth in that area. Maybe it’s because women are getting more opportunities, 40 years later after Title IX. I would hope things are getting better for women in this industry.”
Obviously we ALL have to eat! If Carol could have dinner with three women in sports, past or present, who would she eat with?
“I have the pleasure to meet so many in the world of sports.
First would be Wilma Rudolph: A true pioneer and leader. She broke through so many personal and professional barriers. I love her story Second would be Hilary Clinton, I’m impressed with her ties to the State Department Global Mentoring Program. Last, Felicia Aiyeotan, she’s from Nigeria. 6’9”. One of the Hoops4Hope girls who Mobi Akiode is now in Philadelphia preparing for college.”
Whatever your profession is as a woman in sports, you take advice, mentorship, and inspiration from your fellow women, whatever their specialty is. Such a huge, world-wide industry, but a small world at the same time!
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