All about the assistant director of Grady’s sports media certificate

By Brooke Barber 

Carlo Finlay is an assistant director of Grady’s Sports Media Certificate. This program is unique to UGA, and it offers students hands-on experience in the sports industry. Students in this program gain knowledge in the areas of sports writing, reporting, broadcasting, social and digital media, media relations, and communications.

Finlay is an Athens native who attended UGA. During law school, he realized he wanted to be involved in sports. He then got a masters degree in sports management. Now, he is a full time professor at UGA who teaches a variety of classes such as “Intro to Sports Reporting and Writing” and “Social and Digital Media Production in Sports.”

Finlay has been involved with the Sports Media Certificate since its creation in 2014. Because of this, Finlay has been able to see a lot of growth within the Sports Media Certificate. “There is a little more guidance and structure along the path, and I think that’s one of the nice things that we’ve brought as a program since 2014,” said Finlay.

During these seven years, Finlay and his students have gotten the opportunity to attend high profile and exciting events such as the 2017 NCAA Tennis Championship and the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. He was planning on attending the NCAA Final Four Media Day before its cancellation.

Students involved in the sports media program have high praises for the program as well as for Finlay himself, claiming that without Finlay their future career goals would not be possible. 

Despite all of the unique opportunities students have as a result of this program, students still view Finlay as a highlight. One student said, “Professor Finlay is one of the most caring and helpful professors I have ever met… He has truly been one of the best parts of this program, and I know that all other students in the program would agree that we couldn’t imagine the sports media certificate without him.”

Finlay has had success on a professional level with his career and on a personal level with his students, but his job faces difficult challenges. The applicant pool for the certificate program is large each year, and while Finlay is encouraged by this, it inevitably means that some students get denied.

“We can’t admit everybody and that’s really difficult because those are really hard decisions to make,” stated Finlay. When asked what the most difficult part of his job was, Finlay replied, “I hate having to say ‘no’ to anybody.”

As with everyone else, 2020 has brought difficulty and confusion to Finlay’s life. Because he leads a program that is hands on, he was forced to rethink his old ways. “Normally we tell our students ‘don’t take no for an answer,’” Finlay commented, “We’ve kind of had to alter the advice and guidance we gave our students in order to keep things as safe as possible.” 

Teaching a class about sports when sports come to a halt is nearly impossible. “It’s been hard… sports didn’t happen for several months,” said Finlay. 

Because of all of the unknowns around this semester, Finlay has strived to go the extra mile for his students. He does this by emphasizing mental health and keeping his class as clear and concise as possible.

“You can’t connect with the students in the way that you sometimes can. I think the main thing I’ve thought of it is to try to kind of keep things as simple and straightforward as possible,” Finlay stated.

Finlay has an undeniable passion for his field as well as heart for his students. Although this semester was unprecedented, Finlay continues to give the best education possible. As for the future of this program, Finlay is “eager for some in person sports.”