BY JOHN YELEY | STAFF REPORTER
Mark Minner, a 2012 Butler graduate, will be the new man behind the microphone for the Butler men’s basketball team when the new season kicks off Nov. 9 at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
When veteran broadcaster Brandon Gaudin left unexpectedly in August to accept a broadcasting offer from Georgia Tech, more than 150 applicants applied for the play-by-play position.
Minner, at just 22 years old, was the man for the job.
He is also serving as the play-by-play announcer for Butler football games webcasts on butlersports.com this fall.
A position of this magnitude is fairly uncommon in the broadcasting profession for an individual less than two years removed from academia.
Minner is a familiar voice for Butler fans that have listened to men’s basketball game radio broadcasts.
He served as the studio host for broadcasts on the Butler Basketball Radio Network, doing halftime and post-game shows.
Despite his youth, those who know the well-spoken Barrington, Ill., native see it as a perfect fit— including Gaudin.
“He is wise and talented beyond his years,” Gaudin said.
“In this profession, you have to do more than just decent radio or play-by-play. You are an ambassador for your school. I can’t think of a better one for Butler than Mark.”
Minner said he realized in high school he would be unable to go the route of actually playing a sport.
“Every kid grows up watching sports as a release from everyday life, and at a point, you realize you’re not going to be a professional athlete,” Minner said.
Minner said he wished to still somehow work with sports.
“I wanted to look for another way to stay involved, and broadcasting became that path,” Minner said.
While attending Barrington High School, he found the opportunity for that goal to become reality.
Having always dreamed of working in television, Minner signed up to be a part of an education-based station run by students.
The decision would have farther-reaching implications than he would realize at the time.
Through the high school station, Minner met FOX Chicago sports anchor Corey McPherrin, and soon began making videos for his prep sports website.
In addition to his duties in the newsroom, McPherrin was also a Board of Trustees’ member at his alma mater, a small liberal arts school in Indianapolis. Minner wasn’t familiar with it.
“I had never heard about Butler until then,” he said. “As Corey and I got to know each other, I mentioned my interest in broadcasting, and he suggested I give it a look. After I did, I thought it would be a great goal to call a game at Hinkle Fieldhouse.”
When Minner arrived at Butler in fall 2009, he loved his new school, but found the lack of student participation in broadcast to be troubling.
Not to be deterred, the freshman marketing and electronic media double major met some professors, including Scott Bridge, who proved invaluable to his career plan.
With their insight and support, Minner soon became involved with the athletics department as an undergrad, doing play-by-play webcasts for women’s basketball, soccer, and volleyball, as well as hosting the student-run Butler Blitz sports show.
He said the most valuable experience was the hands-on experience and knowledge he received from his colleagues, including Gaudin, as well as the trio of Athletics Director Barry Collier and assistant athletic directors Mike Freeman and Joe Gentry.
“Mark has been a key piece of our athletics department since he enrolled,” Freeman said. “He has great talent as a broadcaster and is an incredibly driven person.”
Despite all the praise, Minner remains humble, acknowledging those who helped him get to where he is now.
“Brandon (Gaudin) was as good of a mentor as I could have asked for,” he said. “He is as humble as he is talented, and I learned not just broadcasting and technical skills, how to treat people and carry myself.
“(The athletic department staff) have all played a big part in helping me mature over the past several years.”
The new-look Bulldogs squad may appear to some a different animal entirely as it enters the Big East, ever growing in its reputation as one of the NCAA’s newest forces to be reckoned with.
Minner said he is confident Butler will not lose its small-school charm in spite of the recent developments and looks forward to stepping into his new role at the school that helped him discover his passion.
“The thing that I can appreciate most is that, despite the levels of success that were being achieved each year, the coaching staff, the players—as well as those around the department—remained as humble and thankful and personable as if they’d had a winless season instead,” Minner said. “It was a great experience to be around a program like Butler, that you could seemingly always count on to win despite the odds.
“It makes me really proud,” Minner said. “I’m very excited. As Butler enters this new era with coach Miller and the Big East, it brings tons of new excitement and opportunities, and I’m happy to be a part of that.”