Retiring Chairman Sean McManus leaves CBS Sports with its critical properties locked up long-term (Part-1)

Sean McManus has had little time to ponder on his nearly 27 1/2 years as CBS Sports president. Last month's men's NCAA Tournament and this weekend's Masters broadcast happened. McManus has been more grateful in the six months since his retirement announcement. McManus' final event as CBS Sports chairman is the network's signature tournament.  

“I’ve tried to soak them all in even more than I usually do and appreciate the incredible opportunities that I’ve had,” McManus told The Associated Press last week. “Some is looking back, but with nothing but pride and fondness for both the events I've covered and the team I've assembled.”  

McManus, 69, began considering retirement two years ago. McManus and CBS President/CEO George Cheeks felt the timing was appropriate to air the Super Bowl, NCAA Tournament, and Masters on CBS this year. Over 10-year CBS Sports executive David Berson is McManus' hand-picked replacement.  

As a child, McManus attended sports events with his father, the late Jim McKay, who anchored ABC's “Wide World of Sports” and covered 12 Olympics. McKay hosted Masters coverage from 1957-60 and worked at CBS from 1950-61. CBS has hosted the Masters for 68 years, the longest streak of any network and athletic event.  

“Imagine the McManus family fingerprinting an event for 74 years. Thinking three-quarters of a century is cool. His father influenced the tournament. Sean dominated this tournament for 28 years. It's wonderful," said CBS's main NFL and golf commentator Jim Nantz, who called the Final Four from 1991 to 2023.  

ABC Sports hired McManus in 1977 as a production assistant and associate producer. NBC hired him as vice president of program planning and development two years later. Before becoming CBS Sports president in December 1996, he was senior VP of U.S. television sales and programming for Trans World International, an IMG division, in 1987.  

He was president of CBS News and CBS Sports from 2005-11 before becoming chairman in February 2011. Few persons have had such an impact on sports media. Additionally, he exudes class, Berson said.  

McManus joined CBS Sports while it was mostly weekend programming. A cable network, online, and digital streaming followed. Neal Pilson, CBS Sports president from 1981-94, is one of McManus' many supporters for his adaptability.  

He stated, “Now I see the business as 10 times more difficult, and Sean has navigated a much more complex business environment certainly as well or better than I could have done.” McManus' biggest accomplishments were bringing the NFL back in 1998 and working with Turner Sports to air the NCAA Tournament in 2010.  

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