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Ben Sutton - June NCSHOF Member of the Month

By Helen Ross and Rick Strunk, 06/26/19, 6:30PM EDT


He’s visited Omaha Beach on the shores of Normandy in advance of the 75th anniversary of D-Day as well as played golf at Pebble Beach...

Ben Sutton is a busy, busy man.

Check out his Twitter page and you’ll see that in the last 30 days or so, he’s visited Omaha Beach on the shores of Normandy in advance of the 75th anniversary of D-Day as well as played golf at Pebble Beach Golf Links the week before the 119th U.S. Open began.

And if the trans-Atlantic and trans-continental trips weren’t enough, a few weeks later Sutton was back home in Winston-Salem where he accepted the Arledge Award for Innovation from the National Sports Media Association on behalf of himself and ISP Sports, the company he founded in 1992.

In recognition of this award, Sutton has been selected as the June Member of the Month for the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the NCSHOF as a Contributor in 2017.

It’s hard to imagine anyone more deserving of the award that is named for Roone Arledge, who was president of ABC Sports, as well as the network’s news division. Among his innovative programming was the “Wide World of Sports” and Monday Night Football, and he also pioneered the use of slow-motion replay and sideline cameras.

Sutton, who grew up in tiny Murfreesboro, N.C., is cut from a similar mold.

After earning his law degree from Wake Forest in 1983, Sutton worked in the school’s athletic department before starting ISP Sports with his alma mater as his first client. This ground-breaking company created a way to consolidate media rights for college athletic programs, making it easier for investors to connect while at the same time increasing the financial benefits to the universities.

“If you’re not going to dream big, why bother,” Sutton told Sports Business Journal in 2018. “I grew up in a little farming community way off the beaten path, but I always believed the world was my oyster.”

Under Sutton’s leadership, ISP Sports had almost 70 colleges as clients, while also creating nationwide businesses for stadium seating and ticket sales. In 2010, ISP merged into IMG College and five years later, when Sutton stepped down as CEO, had more than 225 colleges and conferences in the fold. After another more recent merger, the company is known as Learfield IMG College.

Sutton is now the chairman of Teall Investments, a private equity firm he founded that is based in Winston-Salem, Atlanta and San Francisco. He serves as a trustee at Wake Forest, as well as on the boards of the Ronald Reagan Presidential, United States Olympic Committee, Wyndham Championship, National Football and Naismith Basketball foundations..

His philanthropic efforts through The Sutton Family Foundation are renown with more than $40 million in donations made – including many to his alma mater and organizations in his home state.

Sutton has also received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which is North Carolina’s highest civilian honor. In addition to the NCSHOF, he is also a member of the National Football Foundation and National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators halls of fame.