It’s been an unusual NCAA tournament, so it’s fitting that one of the breakout stars of March Madness has been Fairleigh Dickinson’s 21-year-old sports information director Jordan Sarnoff. The national media learned about him following FDU’s historic upset of Purdue when CBS sideline reporter Jamie Erdahl shared his story during the Florida Atlantic-FDU game. 

Sports information directors (SIDs) are hard-working, important individuals, who are mostly unknown to the general public. They arrange media interviews with college sports athletes and coaches, provide information, and pitch story ideas.

Duing this wild month, Sarnoff, a college student, has emerged as a mini-celebrity. The New Jersey native is the youngest SID in Division I and got his big break doing social media for FDU while still in high school. Awful Announcing recently caught up with Sarnoff, who is scheduled to graduate in May 2024 with a sport management degree. He will be working at the Final Four in Houston.  

Awful Announcing: What have the past few weeks been like for you?

Jordan Sarnoff: “I’m able to celebrate when a story gets placed that I pitched or a TV hit looks good or we get that coverage on radio or a photographer from a local paper comes out to an event. That’s cool. Those are little wins for me. When it’s me being the story as opposed to the person on the other side of the camera, it’s surreal. And while it’s beyond appreciated, I would have never expected it, nor do I think it’s deserved.”

How much have you heard from family and friends?

“I have north of 200 unread text messages. I’m still chipping away. I can’t remember the last time I really looked through my email thoroughly. It’s been overwhelming the outpouring of support.”

How did the Final Four invitation come about?

“The invitation came from David Worlock at the NCAA. He’s a great guy. I’ve seen him present at the College Sports Communicators Convention. I briefly met him there. He reached out to me saying, ‘Congrats on an amazing run. We’ve seen the work you’ve done, and we’d love for you to join our team and help out.’ I couldn’t turn down that offer. I’m excited to see what’s in store for me. I know it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Did you ever worry that some people wouldn’t take you seriously because of your age?

“It wasn’t a problem to my knowledge. You have to get around some red tape, especially with SIDs who have been around a little bit and a little bit set in their ways. There’s always going to be some of that when younger people come up. But I’ve found that for the majority of it, people have been really supportive, really welcoming, and really helpful. I’m fortunate enough that I had a four-year head start. When I went to the Bruce Beck Sports Broadcasting Camp, a lot of those people who are giving us coverage now, I met them when I was 13-16. That’s where I started to build these relationships.”

As the primary media contact for several sports, how do you manage your time as a student?

“I take four classes this semester. Two of them are on Zoom. I’m able to dedicate a lot of time to this. For the most part, I’m left alone. it’s a really good gig because I work with unbelievable student-athletes. I have some great coaches that I deal with. All around it’s just a great situation.”

Are you paid for your work or do you get course credits?

“I do get compensated but I don’t discuss the structure of that… It’s an on-campus job. That’s the best way to explain it. Within the structure of the department, I’m treated no differently than any other staff member. I’m treated as your typical SID.”

Most people don’t grow up aspiring to become an SID, but you did?

“I was never good enough to play sports, but I was fortunate enough from a young age to have the wherewithal to want to network and want to get involved. I was able to meet a lot of unbelievable people from the New York Mets, and local PA announcers in the New York City area. I was able to get involved at a really young age.”

How did you get to meet Mets public relations director Jay Horwitz, who used to work at FDU?

“When I was 7, 8, I was hit in the eye during warmups for a Mets game. I wrote a letter to (former Mets owner) Fred Wilpon because the team took unbelievable care of me. The marketing office responded and I was invited with my family to a game. I was brought onto the field. I was introduced to Ethan Wilson, who is now senior director of communications for the Mets, and I was introduced to Jay, who was still in the media relations office at the time. After meeting him and learning more about his story and what he does, I was really interested in following that path.”

Is there a dream job you have in mind far into the future?

“I wouldn’t say there’s a dream job per se. I would say that I’m curious to see where the path takes me, and that could include staying at FDU. I don’t really know what’s in store but I definitely think I’m going to continue in this space. I’d love to see what professional sports are like. Right now, we have 22 teams and you need to be a master of 22 teams. FDU has been around since 1942 and athletic programs started a couple of years after that. Being able to hone in on one team, one history, I’d love to see how that plays out.”

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant, Anthony Grant, Amy Grant or Hugh Grant.