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Jim Host to Enter National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame

March 8, 2012
By Carlen Dixon of News from iHigh.com

Lexington, KY -- iHigh.com Chairman and CEO W. James Host, who implemented the first collegiate corporate sports marketing program for the NCAA, is one of 10 individuals named to the 2012 class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.


The class, which was announced Tuesday in Kansas City, will be officially inducted during a ceremony on November 18 at the Midland Theatre.


Joining Host in the 2012 class are Georgetown's Patrick Ewing, Kansas’ Clyde Lovellette, North Carolina’s Phil Ford, Wyoming’s Kenny Sailors, Grambling’s Willis Reed, Winston-Salem State’s Earl Monroe, Coaches Dave Robbins and Joe B. Hall, along with administrator and broadcaster Joe Dean.


The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame was founded by the National Association of Basketball Coaches Foundation, Inc., to honor and celebrate those who have made extraordinary contributions to men’s college basketball. 


Fellow Inductee Joe B. Hall, who coached Kentucky from 1972 to 1985 and led the Wildcats to the 1978 national championship, says that the average fan may not be aware of Host’s contribution to the collegiate game.


“The folks at the NABC are well informed on what Jim has done for college basketball,” Hall said.  “He was instrumental in developing the marketing for many collegiate programs - not just at Kentucky, but all over the country.  Jim helped establish corporate support, media contracts, advertising, coaches’ public relations and publicity - he was in charge of so many programs.”


Tom Jernstedt, a 2010 Hall of Fame inductee who spent 38 years with the NCAA, says that Host has had a positive and significant impact on the business side of NCAA basketball.


“As CEO of Host Communications for many years, Jim blazed new trails for the NCAA in the marketing of college basketball,” Jernstedt noted.  “Among his many projects that generated interest in the sport include a national radio network for NCAA basketball, the NCAA corporate partnership program, and marketing programs for the NCAA and its member institutions.  Jim has many friends in the coaching community and in the college administrative ranks who will be thrilled to see him inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.  His many contributions have helped the game develop into the national and international level that it is today.”


Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear noted Host's enduring legacy on college athletics.


"Jim Host has made an enormous impact on college basketball without ever dribbling a ball," Beshear said.  "His decades of work in communications revolutionized the way basketball is seen and enjoyed across the country.  Then he brought that same intensity and focus to his work on our state’s Arena Authority, which managed the construction of Louisville's spectacular KFC Yum! Center.  Jim is not just a good friend, he’s a trailblazer, and I congratulate him on his induction into the Hall of Fame."


University of Kentucky coach John Calipari says that the honor is well-deserved.


"Jim Host has been kind to me for nearly 20 years,” Calipari said.  “He is somebody that I was always able to pick up a phone and call and get advice from.  He has been a mentor to me for a long time.  I am so happy that this award will be presented to him because he is so deserving in all that he has done to help the NCAA Tournament and other things to promote college basketball."


C.M Newton, who served as president of USA Basketball, Athletic Director at the University of Kentucky, NCAA official, and coach for three decades, says that Host has distinguished himself in many ways in his contributions to the college game.


“No one is more deserving than Jim Host of enshrinement into the College Basketball Hall of Fame,” Newton said.  “He is a true pioneer and contributor to college basketball and has had a major impact on the NCAA tournament and to the game in general.”


Host, a University of Kentucky graduate, played professional baseball after receiving one of UK’s first baseball scholarships. He worked with Procter and Gamble in sales and spent the early 1960’s with his own real estate, building and insurance company as well as doing play-by-play for several networks broadcasting UK sports.


In 1967, at age 29, Host became the youngest member of Governor Louie B. Nunn’s cabinet as commissioner of the Department of Public Information and then as commissioner of the Department of Parks.  He was the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor in 1971.

Host returned to Lexington in 1972 and opened Jim Host and Associates, which began rapid development in 1974 with two contracts: a basketball and football radio agreement with the University of Kentucky and an executive management relationship with the National Tour Association.  Host began a long standing business relationship with the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 1975 and is credited with implementing the first collegiate corporate sports marketing program for the NCAA in 1984. Host handled all radio, publishing, marketing and corporate marketing for the NCAA for over 30 years.


In 1995, Host was named to the Junior Achievement Bluegrass Business Hall of Fame. In 2000, he was named to the University of Kentucky Distinguished Alumni Hall of Honors and the state of Kentucky’s Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2001, he received one of Kentucky’s top civic awards: Kentuckian of the Year from the Chandler Foundation. In 2003, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications. In 2004, Host was named Rural Kentuckian of the Year by the Rural Electric Cooperatives of Kentucky. In 2008, Host received the Spirit of Louisville Award from the Louisville Metro Council for his efforts on behalf of the Louisville Arena project. In 2009, he was the recipient of the University of Louisville Hickman Camp Award, given annually to the individual who has provided special service in support of the University of Louisville Cardinal Athletics. Also, in 2009, Host received the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Chairman’s Cup Award and was named to the University of Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame. Host has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of College Marketers.  He has also been inducted into the Travel Industry of America’s Hall of Leaders and the National Tourism Foundation Hall of Fame.  In March 2010, Host was part of the “Inaugural Class of Six” as a member of the Champions, Pioneers and Innovators in Sports Business by the Sports Business Journal. 


Host was the founding chairman of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, which were held in Kentucky in September 2010.


He recently retired as chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority which oversaw the construction and opening of the $238 Million KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville. The 14,000 sq. foot lobby of the facility was named Host Hall at the ribbon cutting ceremony in his Honor.


In November, Host was named the Chairman of the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM), an economic partnership between Louisville and Lexington, by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.


Most recently, the Bluegrass Sports Commission honored Host by naming two of its annual awards after him. The Jim Host Youth Sports Award will be given annually to a Kentuckian that has achieved great success in coaching, administering, volunteering or otherwise associating with youth and/or high school sports that has had a positive impact on their community and the Commonwealth. The Jim Host Sports Business Award will be given annually to a Kentuckian that has achieved a high level of success in the sports industry and has had a positive impact in the state.


About iHigh.com: Based in Lexington, Ky., iHigh.com, Inc. is the nation’s Number One digital television network for high school sports. It provides free Web services to schools, students and other youth organizations around the world to post live television-quality video, stories, photos, video clips, schedules and other information to a page customized with the group’s colors and logos.  Each iHigh.com school and youth group can generate revenue through video advertisements and sales of merchandise on its iHigh.com website at no cost to the school. For more information, go to http://www.iHigh.com.

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