Tell us about yourself:
Above all, I am God-fearing Jew. I also serve as a sports executive at the Big Ten Conference. I have always valued sports so pursuing a career in the business of athletics was a natural fit for me. I grew up in a family that encouraged me to chase my dreams and with their support I have been blessed to help lead the preeminent intercollegiate athletics conference in the country.
How did growing up in Baltimore impact your life?
Growing up in Baltimore was a blessing. It is a naturally tough city that promotes a heightened awareness to work hard to accomplish your goals and dreams. It’s part of the fabric of the city. I was also blessed to have 4 grandparents living in close proximity which greatly impacted my growth.
What are some of your favorite memories of Baltimore?
Davening at Shomrei Emunah, eating at Tov Pizza and Kosher Bite, playing basketball at the Park Heights JCC with my father, hanging out with Gilad Schwartz, Kenneth Hamburger, Alexander Matisyahu Porcelain, Eitan Lefkowitz, Eliav Boaz Langbaum, Yishaya Katz, and Israel Katz aka “Chargemaster”, watching Orioles, Ravens and Maryland games, and finding ways to entertain ourselves without technological stimulation.
Who inspires you in the Jewish community?
Samuel Baldinger and Burry Klein. Two close friends who prioritize Torah values and continue to make serious strides in professional life as well. We are all ambassadors for the Jewish people. Striving to be a Kiddush Hashem is not an easy task, but every Jew must ensure their behavior and conduct is in line with what God demands. These two excel in this area.
I also am deeply inspired by my wife Rachie, grandfathers, Earle Freedman and David Neuman, grandmothers Trudy Freedman and (Celia Neuman A”H), my father, Craig Neuman, my mother Barbara Ellen Neuman, brothers Michael and Brian, sisters Tziporah and Idit Reiut, and my nieces and nephews.
How has your faith impacted the way you approach life?
It governs my decision making and life choices. I rely on Torah lessons to inform my thinking and behaviors in any given situation. We have an opportunity to make a difference in the world. We are also encouraged to continue to grow. My great friend Noella Yeung always encourages: “keep climbing.”
Rabbi Binyamin Marwick, Rabbi Ari Waxman, Rabbi Josh Joseph and Rabbi Yitzchok Gettinger are all Rebbeim I continue to look up to.
What professional achievement are you most proud of?
The summer of 2022 has been a monumental time for growth in the Big Ten Conference. We added the University of Southern California and the University of California Los Angeles (arriving 2024) enabling the conference footprint to span from Piscataway (Rutgers) to Southern California with 16 remarkable institutions (including University of Maryland!) Weeks later, we announced groundbreaking media rights agreements providing fans unprecedented access and student-athletes greater exposure than any other collegiate sports conference in history. Starting in 2023, Big Ten Conference will increase distribution coast-to-coast featuring exclusive content across linear networks CBS, NBC, FOX and Direct-to-Consumer streaming platform, Peacock. This is the largest media rights deal in college sports history.
What has working in sports taught you?
Visibility matters. Everyone has a platform but in the sports business, there is a unique platform to influence. We have remarkable media viewership but what are we teaching the viewers? Are we teaching folks to win and lose with style, grace and class? Are we turning a lens to mental health and wellness? Are we encouraging folks to elevate their game in their personal lives with the same levels of earnestness as on the football field? Sports provides a central platform and leaves us with a responsibility to ensure that anyone who touches our product is ignited by the enthusiasm and pageantry that the Big Ten provides.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
It’s not happy people who are grateful; it’s grateful people who are happy. Gratitude is an important component to thriving personally and professionally. If you are grateful for what you have, your energy and work product will improve.
What’s the best advice you can give someone who is early in their career?
Be open to the ideas of other people. I think that’s the best definition of humility. With quick soundbites on Twitter, intense fixation on social media in general, there is a sincere sense of pride in being “right” all the time. We tend to lean into our feelings rather than consider other legitimate options. To be fair, it is useful to be strong in our values. But, more often than not, other people have great ideas and perspectives to share as well. Never lock into one path with such ferocity that it denies you the opportunity to seriously consider alternate perspectives. That’s how you get left behind.
What are your favorite books to recommend?
Torah – God
The Quest for Authenticity – Michael Rosen
The Lonely Man of Faith – Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
Range – David Epstein
Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
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