SID — More Than a Title

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SID — More Than a Title

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sammy Mora

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Working in media that covers the University of Utah means working hand in hand with the athletic department. Media members can not just walk up to student athletes and coaches and start interviewing them wherever they see them. To be able to get an interview, local media members need to go through a Sports Information Director (SID) in order to set up an interview.

SID’s don’t only schedule interviews for student athletes and coaches — they are also responsible for providing player and team stats to media and the general public. Additionally, they write stories previewing and recapping games, as well as other news for the college’s athletic sites. 

The U has had the fortune of having a long lineage of SID’s who have assisted the media in telling the stories of Utah athletics.

Most media members who have been covering the U for a long time have had the pleasure of working with one or both of the some of the best in the business. Bruce “Woody” Woodbury was the head of the SID department from 1973 until he retired in 2007, and most recently, Liz Abel retired in July of 2019 after 36 years with the program. Both made their impact on university athletics and helped local media cover the Utes in the best possible way.

Enter Paul Kirk, who will be filling in the shoes left by both Abel and Woodbury for this upcoming school year and athletic season. Before coming to the U he spent seven years in the same position at Colorado State University. He worked for the Denver Broncos from 1999-2002 as their media relations manager, and 2002-2008 as director of media relations.

Kirk believes that the position of SID has evolved and changed over the years but at its core, it is still the same thing it always has been.

“It’s a position that has changed quite a bit over the years and even the term SID has evolved in the industry. It’s the role of hoping to tell the stories of our athletics programs. That takes on a lot of different facets, including media relations so assisting the news media with telling our story and in the more modern era telling the story through all of our own channels we have at our disposal but it is to publicize and tell the story of our student athletes and our coaches, our sports programs and also to curate the history of these programs as a historical reference,” Kirk said. 

Kirk is making the transition from a non-Power Five conference school to one that is a Power Five school. But this won’t be a whole new experience for him, given the fact that he spent his education career in the conference. 

“There are differences and I’ve been very excited about them and the transition. I think it has gone pretty well so far. The seven years I was at Colorado State were tremendous, it is a great place with great people and enjoyed some really significant athletic success while I was there and some projects that were really enjoyable to be apart of. The building and opening of an on-campus football stadium was chief among those, but also some real highlights during those times and with the transition it is sort of a return to the conference that I was apart of when I first started as a student in this industry as an undergrad at Washington,” Kirk said. “I have many good friends and acquaintances and mentors in this conference so it is really neat to come back to it at such a tremendous place like Utah and have this opportunity.” 

Kirk also said that having the past experience with athletic department construction will help make the department better. 

“The first thing has been really understanding the scope and the nature of the projects here and the south end zone project is a big one and an exciting one and I relate well with the experience I was given being at Colorado State. There are some similarities. The designer is the same but each experience is unique and that will be the number one priority,” he said.  

As for filling in the shoes left by both Woodbury and Abel, Kirk is ready for the challenge and hopes to continue the legacy left by them. 

“Among many things, that is what made this a very attractive position is the legacy that Liz has built here and if you go back from her and Bruce Woodbury’s that’s a significant period of time where two legends in the industry have put their mark on it,” Kirk said. “It’s been so helpful to work with Liz through this transition she has been so generous with information and insight and really caring about making the transition a smooth one and I have so much respect for what she has done and really want to honor her in this process. There is so much of a legacy between the two of them. There is 70+ years of day in day out care for Utah athletics and University of Utah and it’s an honor to get to follow in that path.”

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This article has been updated to accurately reflect Paul Kirk’s title. It’s Sports Information Director, not Student Information Director.