By Keaton Silver
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work behind the scenes in collegiate sports?
A man who knows a thing or two about that is Banks Shepherd, General Manager for Tulane Sports Properties, who currently manages the corporate partnership side of Tulane University athletics.
“We manage the assets such as the in-venue signage you might see at a football, basketball, or baseball games, the radio network coverage, and any commercial interaction with Tulane fans and alumni,” said Shepherd, a Jackson, Mississippi, native.
Shepherd is an Ole Miss graduate and also holds Master’s degrees from Belmont University and the University of North Carolina. He is well respected in his field and is a veteran of quite a few years in the business.
Shepherd has been working in the field of collegiate sports for almost two decades, not only for Tulane, but also at Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, LSU, Baylor, and North Carolina. Shepherd has enjoyed working around the Southeast while making contributions at many different universities.
“You work at the schools you’ve been at, or the place you’re currently at, and relationships sustain wherever you go,” Shepherd said. “The fundamentals of each situation are roughly the same.”
Because of his numerous professional stops, Shepherd has been able to witness many events and work around atmospheres he’s always dreamed about.
One of these events was this year’s NCAA men’s basketball championship game between North Carolina and Kansas, won by the Jayhawks. The Final Four was in New Orleans, so Shepherd didn’t have to leave town to assist.
“Looking back on it, if I was a kid hoping to do something with my career, that would be an experience I would never forget,” he said.
While he had to watch the team that he had previously worked for lose the national championship, Shepherd was able to work in the media room assisting with stats and helping anywhere he was able to be a part of the operation.
“Sometimes you get lost in all of the day to day stuff, and in these moments, you realize, wow this is why we do what we do,” Shepherd said, still talking of the Final Four.
Getting into this field is no cake walk, it appears. While earning a Master’s degree can be important, getting involved by gaining experience, especially through internships while one is young, is more important.
Shepherd’s path was built around the idea of him trying to fit in wherever he could and whatever he could get involved in.
Early on, one of Shepherd’s journalism professors promoted an internship writing for the Ole Miss sports teams. Knowing he wouldn’t get paid, Shepherd was still excited and eager to get the opportunity.
“In my early 20s I volunteered for a lot of different events and that allowed me to network,” he said, emphasizing the importance of stepping forward and taking advantage of opportunities that come along.
For Shepherd, those opened many doors for him to start and grow his career. Now it continues to flourish, and he has enjoyed each step of the journey.
Hard work allowed Shepherd to make important impacts on collegiate sports at different locales, and while that may not been on the field throwing touchdowns, he has helped change how many view college sports today.