Keri Potts ’98, G’99
Syracuse University is where Keri Potts ’98, G’99 learned to love communications and media, combined her education with her passion for sports, and laid the foundation for a gratifying career—not just a job. As senior director of communications for college sports at ESPN, Potts is responsible for coordinating and guiding the strategic communications efforts around all college sports event and studio content—including the new SEC Network, college football and the College Football Playoff, men’s and women’s basketball, NCAA Championships, College GameDay, ESPNU, Longhorn Network, ESPN Regional Television’s collegiate offerings, and related content and businesses.
Potts grew up in Smithtown, New York, and came to Syracuse on a volleyball scholarship, spending much of her downtime working in the athletics department. A talented athlete, she served as co-captain, was named a first-team GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-American in 1999, won the Soladay Award given to the University’s top female student-athlete, and was named the Orange Plus Woman of the Year by the athletics alumni association.
Despite all her athletic prowess, Potts’ favorite memories as a student are rooted at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism and a master’s degree in public relations and organizational management. She fondly recalls sitting in Professor Bill Glavin’s paper- and book-filled office. “We’d talk about athletics, debate politics, and share favorite passages from great writers,” she says. “It was the quintessential college experience.”
After college, Potts landed her first job as a writer and publications editor for the NCAA in Indianapolis. She also gained experience in committee work and on-site championships administration—and she was amazed at Syracuse’s presence even in the Midwest. “Being in Indianapolis where most people were from Kansas or other Midwest states, I was struck by what a benefit it is to have a Syracuse University degree in this business,” she says. “Syracuse has such a strong presence in the media world, such a tremendous network, and a great reputation. Success is largely about what you know and who you know, and I’ve never lacked alumni support or guidance.”
In 2003, Potts accepted a senior publicist position with ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, working on the NFL, NBA and ESPN Original Entertainment. Over the past 11 years she’s risen from communications manager to senior director and publicized everything from the NFL Draft, to the World Series of Poker, reality shows, the ESPYs, the award-winning This is SportsCenter series, the “30 for 30” documentary series, the ESPN/Tribeca Sports Film Festival, and the launch of espnW—ESPN’s first dedicated women’s business.
Today Potts is based in Atlanta and supports the community and her alma mater in a variety of ways. She volunteers as a rape crisis counselor at Atlanta’s Grady Hospital and is a national speaker on victims’ advocacy and anti-sexual violence. She also enjoys talking with Syracuse students and alums, and supporting Newhouse. “I believe in the quality of education Syracuse provides and the important work of Newhouse, especially supporting and advancing journalism,” Potts says. “Journalism is essential for a free society to hold institutions, businesses, and people accountable, and the profession is under such strain.”
In 2011, Potts was among 40 Newhouse graduates inducted into the Professional Portrait Gallery.