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Hogan’s Rising Stars developing youth for future careers

Former Florida State Sports Information Director Wayne Hogan, who served as FSU’s Athletic Director (interim) for seven months and later as Athletic Director at the University of Montana, has lived a boyhood dream to work in athletics and is now helping other boys and girls fulfill their dream too.

Hogan was born and bred in Tallahassee with youthful aspirations of a career in sports broadcasting. His father, Pat Hogan, was a Vice President at FSU and a longtime university administrator who often brought Wayne to games.

Wayne had the good sense, or was it fortune, to volunteer to be a student assistant for Sports Information Director Mark Carlson and his assistant Mike Parsons, while attending school in the 1970s. 

“They allowed me to cut my teeth in that field and I loved it,” Hogan said. “I did it all. Got involved in some broadcasting opportunities, did baseball on radio as a student, did some television telecasts for Sunshine Sports, so I parlayed a lot of different media channels while I was still in college.”

The experience built a winning resume for Hogan, who landed a broadcasting job in Triple-A baseball right out of college, which began a steady ascent to become a collegiate athletic director at Florida State (interim) and then Montana.

Inspiration for Florida Rising Stars

We’ll share more about Hogan’s journey but this is a good point in the story to say that his fortuitous experience as a college student became the inspiration for partnering with Florida’s Rising Stars Project founder Jan Richard to provide Florida’s youth with career aspirations in sports.

What sets Florida Rising Stars Project (a 501-C3, not for profit organization) apart from hundreds of other one- or two-day sports camps offering on-field instruction in sports, is Florida Rising Stars also offers guidance and instruction in career sports fields such as sports broadcasting, marketing, athletic training, strength and conditioning and officiating. 

Richard and Hogan have created a curriculum to help all kids with an interest in sports as a career. Florida Rising Stars Project caters to all kids, whether they are a good athlete or not, and whether they come from an underprivileged or underserved community or not. 

“How many kids want a career in sports?” Hogan said. “I’m an example. I always wanted to be a broadcaster from the time I was in high school but I didn’t know how to go about it. I didn’t know anything about the skills that were required or how it works behind the scenes.”

With their extensive experience in the field, Richard and Hogan have assembled an all-star cast of celebrity instructors to share their knowledge of the sports industry with boys and girls about sports marketing, broadcasting, medical training, strength and conditioning and officiating.

The curriculum — or “five points of the star” — include on-field sports and recreation, the Bill Patrick School of Broadcasting, athletic training and sports medicine, sports marketing and sports information and sports officiating. All points lead to the center of the star, which are the life lessons these Ambassadors have learned in the sports industry. 

“Our all-star cast of more than 50 celebrity Ambassadors will provide unmatched instruction and share their personal stories of success and advice to help these young people get a leg up,” Hogan said.

Hogan’s goal is to give these boys and girls all the information he wished he had while he was still in high school.

“When I was sports information director at FSU or athletic director at Montana, I would have students come to my office and tell me their dream is to work in sports and ask me how to get into it,” Hogan recalls. “I would say, ‘Volunteer to be an intern.’ It would break my heart when they told me they are graduating next semester. I wanted to ask them, where have you been for the last four years?”

Florida Rising Stars is Hogan’s way to help kids avoid the mistake so many others have made by arming them with a game plan and some skills before they get to college. 

The sports officiating track is of particular interest to Hogan.

“The more I’ve learned about this track the more I understand there is a tremendous lack of young sports officials available to work athletic events and it’s a tremendous way for these kids to make some money in college,” Hogan said. “You’ve got all these counties around Florida that have built these humongous sports complexes. They have hundreds of softball, baseball and soccer fields for tourism purposes, to attract 50-60 teams and stay in their hotels and eat in their restaurants. It’s a great idea and it’s working. So all these teams from all over America are coming to Florida and they’re having these massive tournaments. Well, who’s gonna officiate all those games? If you got 25 or 30 games in a day, that requires a lot of umpires and officials, right? And there’s just not enough.”

Hogan believes officiating could be a way for these kids to pay for college doing something they find fun.

“You know, this is a true path for these high school kids that we’re going to train, or at least give them a taste and show them that you can put yourself through college doing this,” Hogan said. “There’s an economic side to it as these kids will come from all different backgrounds. We’re going to work with boys and girls clubs. We’re going to work with Florida Sheriff’s Youth ranches, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, all the organizations that cater to youth in these communities.”

Virtual Silent Auction will help fund camp sessions

While many of the boys and girls who will attend can pay their own way, Florida Rising Stars is raising money to pay the cost of the camp session for those boys and girls who cannot afford the registration fees with a virtual silent auction and through donations. 

The Florida Rising Stars virtual silent auction will begin on Thursday and close to Sunday (March 28). Bobby Bowden, Derrick Brooks, Tony Dungy and Wade Boggs are among the Florida Rising Stars Ambassadors who have contributed autographed items to the auction. If you have a Gator fan in your life, they might like to bid on 18 holes of golf with the Head Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, or bid on items donated by other Gator greats. The virtual silent auction also includes items from many professional athletes and numerous vacation getaways to Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Costa Rica, Utah’s National Parks, California Glamping, Iceland’s Fire and Ice and more. 

For information on the virtual silent auction or to participate, click here.

Back to Hogan’s Journey 

While Hogan was living his dream broadcasting baseball for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Triple-A club in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he realized he missed the excitement of year-round collegiate sports.

As luck would have it, the University of New Mexico, which was just across the street from Hogan’s office, just hired a new athletic director. It was John Bridgers.

“Oh, wow!” Hogan said. “John Bridges had been there at FSU when I was a student and so we knew each other. I was kind of a man about the athletic department and knew a lot of people. So when he came, it was kind of strange, you know, because here we are in this land they call the “Land of Enchantment,” a million miles from Tallahassee, Florida, and yet we’re working right across the street from each other.”

Small world? The world was smaller because of the time Hogan had spent as a student assistant at Florida State, a lesson that will not be lost on Florida Rising Star students.

“I was telling him that I was having to go out and do car washes and program sales and things like that in the off season and he enticed me to come and work for him,” Hogan said.”He said come on over and I went back into college sports, kind of gave up the idea of being a broadcaster.”

One year later the job at FSU opened, when Mark Carlson – the AD Hogan had served as a student-assistant  – left FSU for a job with CBS Sports. 

“This was my chance to get back home to Florida State and I went to work to try to get the job,” Hogan said.

Again, his experience as a student-assistant didn’t hurt him.

“Lo and behold, as a young whipper snapper, 25 years old maybe 26, Florida State University hired me as the S.I.D in 1982,” Hogan said. “So I was back, back where I wanted to be, back where I belonged. And I couldn’t have been happier. Honest to goodness, I thought I was gonna be there the rest of my life. I loved it so much. I loved my job. I love the people. I’m a huge Seminole of course and my time with Bobby Bowden was priceless.”

Hogan successfully promoted a number of Seminoles for All American honors and was successful in promoting linebacker Paul McGowan for the Butkus Award. The award is presented to the nation’s top linebacker and was the first of many national “player of the year awards” FSU players would receive while Hogan was Sports Information Director. 

“The longer I was there, the more exciting it got,” Hogan said with a laugh. “That was the days of Derrick Brooks and Charlie Ward and Warrick Dunn. It couldn’t have been better. I was at the prime time of my life, and I was having more fun than the law allows. We all had to work hard in those days. We didn’t have a big staff and we kind of ballooned onto the national scene during those years.”

These were the Dynasty Years after all when Florida State won 10 or more games each year, finished in the top four of the polls over a 14-year span. 

“The pressure really increased dramatically with the national attention and we really put in the time,” Hogan said, noting he had a talented and dedicated staff. “There’s no doubt we played hard, but we worked our ass off as well. We won the first national championship in 1993, which was the pinnacle, which everyone worked so hard to get to the mountain top and then the bubble burst.”

The bubble burst occurred within the athletic administration. Athletic Director Bob Goin was cited for ethics violations, which led FSU President Sandy D’Alemberte to relieve him of his duties and to name Hogan as interim athletic director.

“It was awkward,” Hogan said. “Bob was my friend, so my heart went out to his family. I had been on his staff, serving with all of the other members of his staff. And suddenly I was the interim athletic director.”

While Hogan rose comfortably into his role during the seven months he served, it was a tumultuous time for Florida State as the Seminoles were also dealing with the repercussions of the Foot Locker scandal and the NCAA’s first investigation into agents providing student-athletes with benefits. 

FSU’s national search for an athletic director, which included Hogan, concluded with the naming of Dave Hart as athletic director. Like many athletic directors, Hart wanted to bring his staff with him. Hogan wanted to stay in athletics and became athletic director at the University of Montana, where he served for nine years before becoming an associate AD for external relations at Georgia Tech for seven years. Hogan was again a finalist for the FSU athletics director opening in 2008 — now with a seasoned resume — but FSU President TK Wetherall selected Randy Spetman.

In 2013, Hogan became the Executive Director for the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and opened Mango Media, a public relations firm. Wayne and his wife, Dawn, live in Madeira Beach, Florida. 

Hogan is enjoying life and now looking forward to interacting with other sports industry leaders to do something meaningful to help kids realize their dreams.

“We’re going to call out the people who really have an interest in sports; not only the ones who are great athletes, but the ones who love sports but are not such great athletes,” Hogan said. “We’ll try to give them a head start. We’re not going to teach them everything in one day but we can teach them enough to where they’ll know what skills they need to acquire and how to go about getting a leg up.”

Click here to contact Hogan or learn more about the Florida Rising Stars Project.