BYU Athletics announced Monday a restructuring to its Athletic Communications Department, combining communications, marketing, social media and media relations.
Jon McBride, from BYU’s University Communications, is now associate athletic director for communications and media strategy to “oversee this new, innovative and collaborative direction.”
“This was a strategic decision we felt needed to be made,” BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe said in a press release. “While the impact of COVID-19, including a multimillion-dollar revenue loss, can’t be ignored and requires us to make fiscal decisions, we feel like we’re moving forward with a new model that is going to allow us to be more efficient in our future plans.”
Athletic Communications will move forward with fewer media relations personnel, resulting in layoffs for several sports information directors.
Long-time media relations expert and BYU women’s basketball SID Norma Bertoch is among those let go, concluding a career at BYU spanning more than 30 years. Bertoch also assisted with the broadcasting lab in the BYU School of Communications for a time.
Other layoffs include men’s basketball SID Kyle Chilton, who helped BYU navigate the media frenzy surrounding Jimmermania in 2011, among other great seasons. Football SID Kenny Cox, baseball SID Jordan Christiansen and graduate assistants Tatiana Littlefield, Ari Davis and Braden Taylor were also let go.
In place of these positions, BYU has created new hybrid communications positions with “an emphasis on social media, while retaining traditional media relations responsibilities.”
The consolidation comes at a peculiar time, with BYU Football ranked in the Top 10 in the nation and a promising BYU Basketball season beginning in a matter of weeks. But Holmoe said the change comes in an effort to continue to grow BYU Athletics in the digital age.
“We have made a number of important strides in our athletic department over the past few years in utilizing video, graphic design and social media,” Holmoe said. “We’re constantly moving forward, to be on the cutting-edge, ready to promote the BYU brand, our teams, our student-athletes and connect with Cougar Nation in new and innovative ways.”
McBride shared a brief insight as to how how this restructuring will look as he leads the charge into a new era for BYU Athletics.
“Our new model will emphasize mentored student learning, which has been instrumental in allowing BYU Athletics to do more with social media communications over the past few years,” McBride said. “BYU students bring unique skills and generational social perspectives that are critical to connecting with Cougar Nation.”