Lydia Murphy-Stephans has been busy in
her new role at Pac-12 Networks. She has
spent the past four months putting together
an infrastructure of engineering, operations
and facilities people. Now she is getting into
the planning of programming and the hiring
of on-air talent for the one national and six
regional TV networks she oversees that will
televise more than 800 hours of live Pacific
12 conference college sports events annually
when they premiere in August.
“This is now the fun part,” she says, “deciding
what our programming grid will look like and
hiring the faces of our networks.” And her first
three talent hires have been All-Star choices:
Ronnie Lott, Rick Neuheisel and Summer
Sanders all have ties to Pac-12 schools.
Murphy-Stephans is no stranger to sports,
or to running the production side of a sports
network. A former Olympic speedskater, she
was the first woman in TV sports history to
be named a vice president.
She joined ABC Sports in 1986 to work on
the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary. Eight years
later, she was named VP of programming and
acquisitions for ABC Sports. In that role, she
negotiated worldwide media rights for events,
created original sports programming and
oversaw ABC’s legendary Wide World of Sports.
In 1995, she was appointed to the Lifetime
Television board of directors to oversee ABC/
Disney’s stake in the channel. In 1999, she was
named president and executive producer for
Oxygen Sports at Oxygen Media.
In 2006, Murphy-Stephans became executive
VP of programming and production for
MSG Media, where she oversaw all the networks’
programing, production, marketing
“When I was at ABC, no women then were
doing what I’m doing now, but there were a
few women working in post-production,” she
recalls. “I learned a lot from them and never
thought of myself as a pioneer. It wasn’t easy.
Along the way, I’ve worked for male executives
who created opportunities for me, and
I was also passed over for jobs because I was
a woman. But I learned my craft and moved
up as opportunities arose.”
Today, Murphy-Stephans is in a position
to hire women. “The sports industry is still
dominated by men,” she says. “My goal is to
build the best possible team. But if there is
a male and female candidate with the same
qualifications, I would lean toward hiring
the woman because she has probably worked
harder to get where she is.”
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