Gail Sideman Publicity


For More Information Contact:     Gail Sideman

Catching up with CBS Sports director, Mark Grant, before Final Four 2024

This is the first post I’ve published here in months because of logistical issues with the gpublicity website (lesson reinforced: better vet vendors). Dates and unexplaineed repetition of previous posts may still not make sense but thanks to the welcome return of web king, Tim, they’re being fixed. Your comments (if not spam) have been saved.  

That said, I couldn’t be prouder to catch up with a friend I spoke with before last year’s Final Four. Enjoy — gs


Last year before the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four I published a Q & A with CBS Sports director, Mark Grant. He was about to take over calling the shots you see on the screen from a 40-year veteran.

The first-ever Black professional to direct a championship broadcast in any sport, Mark also broke big barriers that weekend.

Today, a follow-up chat as Mark looks back on Year One and his prep for this weekend’s shows in Phoenix.

Gail — Was the experience directing your first Final Four last year any different than you anticipated?

Mark“It was better than I ever dreamed. San Diego State beat Florida Atlantic in a buzzer-beater in the first game. That got me excited! Of course, in the next game, Connecticut blew out Miami, but the high of that first game carried.

“Once we got to the championship game on Monday night, it hit me that I was directing Jim Nantz’s last game, and it was in his hometown. I was so honored to be there and will always cherish being a part of that.”

Gail — What’s the biggest change Final Four viewers will notice this year?

Mark“Last year, we didn’t have a SkyCam because of the configuration of NRG stadium. We will have one in Phoenix, and I think it makes a show feel much bigger. In addition, we will have a drone flying around. Without giving too much away, the opening shot of the show will be very exciting.”

Gail — What’s the biggest change or modification you’ll make as a director this year?

Mark Grant returns to direct the 2024 Final Four for CBS Sports.
Mark Grant will direct his second NCAA Final Four for CBS Sports.

Mark“The NCAA has cleared the way for more drone access, and I hope to create some pretty shots using it, that we have not been able to do in the past. As far as me personally, I will be more comfortable being on the biggest stage in college basketball.

“Having a rep under my belt really helps. This year I know what to expect and the gravity of the situation won’t overwhelm me.”

Gail — You direct football and basketball. What’s the biggest difference or challenge between the two?

Mark“I love both. While I’m not the lead director on the NFL, only 16 people in America get to direct a game each week. That puts me in elite company. It is a privilege to have done the NFL for 25 seasons. 

“America deep dives into March Madness. It’s exciting to follow the No. 1 seeds, but also the Cinderellas that had to win their conference tournaments to get into the Dance.

“Each team has players with unique stories that the average college basketball fan doesn’t know. Being able to take college basketball to its final game of the year is exciting and I love watching it unfold. Our job is to tell those stories, even if a team is a one-and-done in the tournament. 

“Last week I had NC State in the Regional Final. As I began prepping for that game, DJ Burns, Jr. emerged as someone with a super story I knew we needed to tell. He had an amazing game and now the Wolfpack is going to the Final Four. Most people who watch March Madness now know who he is because of the stories that our crew told about him.

“Incidentally, DJ’s dad was at the game and in the critical moments when his son was making plays, it was great to see the thrill of a proud papa cheering for his son. No matter which team fans want to win this weekend, I think they can’t help but cheer for DJ Burns. I love that part of my job.”

Gail — I’ve known you a long time, so I safely say I know you take nothing — no assignment — for granted. How has that affected your growth as a director?

Mark“Being chosen by my bosses to take the place of a pro who did it for 40 years is very humbling. At CBS we have several talented directors whose work I have the utmost respect. Any of them could direct the Final Four.

“My job is to validate the decision that my bosses made for me to be the lead director for college basketball. I take their advice and use the gifts I’ve been blessed with to always perform at the highest level.

“At the end of the Final Four, I want them to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they chose the right person for the job. That is a challenge I live for and accept each time I sit in the director’s chair.”



©Gail Sideman, gpublicity 2024

Share on:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Categories