Kenny Mossman started his professional career as an award-winning sports writer and editor for a Kansas newspaper. At the time, his job was a perfect fit. Mossman loved writing, and he thrived in the fast-paced world of sports news. However, as time went by, he started to miss one thing: being a fan.
While working as a journalist, Mossman had to remain unbiased when he discussed sports. After a couple of years, he started yearning for an opportunity to throw his full interest and support behind a single athletics program.
“As a journalist, I felt like I was touching sports, but I was still on the outside looking in,” he said. “I wanted to be on the inside.”
Mossman left his full-time job to go to Kansas State as a graduate student and work part-time as a graduate assistant. Within a year, he had a new job at the university as director of sports information, and, from there, his career in the world of college athletics took off.
Mossman eventually moved to Illinois State, where he served 10 years as assistant athletic director. In 2001, he moved to the University of Oklahoma to serve as the director of communications for the athletics department.
Through it all, Mossman never gave up writing. In fact, he wrote the Oklahoma Football Vault, published in 2008, and just finished an update focused on former OU coach Bob Stoops. The new edition of the book comes out this fall.
“Creating this book was a very fun, exciting experience. It was a real honor to be asked to write about OU football,” Mossman said.
In his current role as senior associate athletics director for external relations, Mossman oversees areas of the athletics program that have an outward thrust, such as marketing, communications, licensing, graphic design and broadcasting. He helps manage the public face of the OU brand, and he influences the way people perceive the university.
The OU athletics department is recognized by people all over the world, fostering a far-reaching visibility for the university while playing a significant role in people’s first impression of OU. An important part of Mossman’s job is making sure that that first impression is a good one.
“It’s the responsibility of an athletics department to conduct itself in such a way that it represents the university accurately,” he said. “We’re such a focal point for attention, and we want to make sure that we’re always putting our best foot forward.”
The OU Sooners have had a strong brand presence through the years, and Mossman and his team work hard to maintain the brand’s integrity.
“You have to hold the brand high and make sure that you protect it with everything you’ve got. There’s been a lot of sweat equity that went into that through the years. We look to promote the brand and push it into new markets and new opportunities whenever we can,” he said. “And by the same token, we make sure that we protect it from the places that might diminish it.”
Mossman’s love of sports started early in his childhood, and he knew at a young age that he wanted a career in the athletics industry. He attended college at Southwestern College in his hometown of Winfield, Kansas on a basketball scholarship, and though he knew that he wouldn’t play past college, he still found a way to remain active in the world of sports.
“There’s great value in the people who work in sports,” said Mossman. “Athletics can bring together people from all different backgrounds. I think that builds a kind of mosaic in your life of appreciating other people and other elements of society. Passion for sports is the core that gets you all together, but then you end up building lasting relationships beyond that.”
In his position, Mossman plays a part in the unseen mountain of careful work that goes into making each football game a genuinely enjoyable experience for fans. Most people would never imagine the level of behind-the-scenes production and organization that goes into every single game.
Right now, one of Mossman’s primary focuses is figuring out how to spread the passion that people have for OU football to other areas of the athletics program. For example, OU has an incredibly successful gymnastics team but, unfortunately, that doesn’t always translate into high attendance at every meet.
“Programs that achieve at a national level are still drawing crowds that are less than what you might anticipate. Our main goal these days is to take that Sooner fan who loves OU football and make them a fan of three or four other sports as well.”
In addition to his work with the athletics department, Mossman also teaches a sports public relations course in the fall and a sports revenue class in the spring.
“I love the opportunity that I’ve had to teach here on campus,” said Mossman. “I can see why people choose it as a career pursuit. It’s very rewarding. The student interaction is terrific.”
He tells all of his students at the beginning of the semester that he is far from a traditional college professor. Mossman uses his courses as an opportunity to give students the practical knowledge that they will need when working in the athletics industry. By sharing his experiences with them, he teaches them what to expect from their potential careers after they graduate.
When he’s not wearing one of his many hats in his jobs with the university, Mossman travels around the state for public speaking engagements with the Oklahoma Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He enjoys the chance to meet people all over Oklahoma and talk to students about a future in the athletics industry.
Mossman lives in Norman with his wife, Amy. They have four children. – BSM