W. James Host
Jim Host, an Ashland, KY native and University of Kentucky graduate, began his professional career with Procter and Gamble in sales and spent the early 1960’s with his own real estate, building and insurance company as well as doing play-by-play for several networks broadcasting UK sports. He played professional baseball after receiving UK’s first-ever baseball scholarships. In 1967, at age 29, Host became the youngest member of Governor Louie B. Nunn’s cabinet as commissioner of the Department of public information and then as commissioner of the Department of Parks. He was the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor in 1971, but lost in the general election.
Host then returned to Lexingtonin 1972 and opened Jim Host and Associates, which later became Host Communications, Inc. the company’s rapid development began in 1974 with two contracts: a basketball and football radio agreement with the University of Kentucky and an executive management relationship with the National Tour Association.
Host then began a long standing relationship with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in 1975 and is personally credited with implementing the first-ever collegiate corporate marketing program for the NCAA in 1984. His company handled all radio, publishing, marketing and corporate marketing for the NCAA for over 30 years until it was sold in 2008 to IMG. He currently serves as Chairman and CEO of iHigh.com, aLexington Kentucky based High School Internet Company and as chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority which recently opened the $238 Million KFC YUM Center. He served as Secretary of Commerce for the Commonwealth of Kentucky under Governor Ernie Fletcher from 2003-05.
Among his numerous honors:
- Named to the Junior Achievement Bluegrass Business Hall of Fame
- Named to the University of Kentucky Distinguished Alumni Hall of Honors
- Elected into Kentucky’s Athletic Hall of Fame
- Named Kentuckian of the Year from the Chandler Foundation
- Earned Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
- Named Rural Kentuckian of the Year by the Rural Electric Cooperatives of Kentucky
- Received Spirit of Louisville Award from the Louisville Metro Council on behalf of the Louisville Arena project
- Recipient of the University of Louisville Hickman Camp Award, given annually to the individual who has provided special service in support of theUniversityofLouisville Cardinal Athletics
- Received the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Chairman’s Cup Award
- Named to the University of Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame
- Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of College Marketers
- Inducted into the Travel Industry of America’s Hall of Leaders
- Inducted into the National Tourism Foundation Hall of Fame
- He was part of the “Inaugural Class of Six” as a member of the Champions, Pioneers and Innovators on Sports Business given by the Sports Business Journal
- The lobby of the Louisville Arena (Yum! Center) was named “Host Hall” in his Honor
- Founding chairman of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, held in Kentuckyin September 2010