Sports Illustratedhas launched a new franchise to cover high-school athletes and collegiate recruiting, called “SI All-American.”
Former CBS Sports' college-football recruiting analyst John Garcia Jr. will lead the program as SI’s director of recruiting.
“Recruiting is the lifeblood of college athletics,” stated co-editor-in-chief Ryan Hunt. “Comprehensive coverage of the next wave of football and basketball stars was one of the biggest things missing at Sports Illustrated, and we’re excited to begin to thoroughly build that out with John.”
“SI All-American” will feature coverage of high-school football and basketball recruiting.
On Monday, the first member of the franchise’s 2019 "All-American" class was announced: Bryce Young, Sports Illustrated’s No. 1 ranked high-school quarterback in the country, from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California.
Selected on an annual basis starting this year, SI's "All-American" class will feature 25 seniors. The roster will be announced in full in the coming weeks.
Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated was acquired by Authentic Brands Group for $110 million from Meredith. In June, ABG licensed the media operations to Maven, an ad platform and media company.
According to Maven, Sports Illustrated’spage load speed increased by 300% and its user engagement and page views per session increased after moving to Maven’s platform.
Eighty new team channels that focus on college football, the NFL and the NBA were added as well, as part of a strategy to eventually cover every major sports team in North America.
In October, SI hired college sports columnist Pat Forde.
Maven founder James Heckman is also the founder of Rivals.com, which covers recruiting with star ratings for prospects and a database.
Much of Heckman’s Rivals team remains with him at Maven and Sports Illustrated.
“I’m excited to get back into college football and basketball recruiting, where it all began,” Heckman stated. “We're definitely going to take no prisoners when it comes to competing in this space. We will provide college-football fans the best product imaginable. Give us a year, and SI will be on top, where it belongs.”
Earlier this week, Maven announced it had tapped New York publisher Avi Zimak to become its Chief Revenue and Strategy Officer.
A redesign for SI is slated for January 2020 under its new management. The company also wants to add a digital membership product and other print subscription options.