Brian Nerney ‘12 shares how his Alvernia experience and basketball career led him to his current role
When Brian Nerney ‘12 enrolled at Alvernia as a sport management major in 2008, he originally wanted to become a coach. A series of experiential learning opportunities led him to a career in the entertainment industry and his debut in show business.
Nerney credits his variety of professional experiences to being immersed in Alvernia’s extracurricular activities and work study opportunities as a tour guide, a work study in the sports information department, the softball manager, president of sport management, intramural sports participant, and Alvernia University Athletics track and field team member and basketball team member where he was part of the first-ever MAC Championship win in 2011.
“Anything I could get my hands on, I tried to get involved in. That is the one piece of advice I can give to anyone at Alvernia right now is just to do everything you can… being involved and doing so many things helped me be more organized and prioritize more things,” said Nerney.
Basketball, however, took precedence in Nerney’s personal and professional journey. Toward the end of his college career, Nerney accepted an internship with the Rutger’s University basketball program from 2011-2013. He also played basketball for a men’s league post-graduation when he met the sponsor of the team who was the head of advertising sales at Paramount which led him to interview for his current position as an account manager in advertising sales.
He said he had never considered this career path originally and that it opened his eyes to a new perspective in his industry. Nerney also said it was nerve wracking transitioning from a smaller, close-knit community like Alvernia in Reading, Pa. to Times Square, New York City in a 50+ story building with 15-20,000 employees (about the seating capacity of Madison Square Garden).
However, Nerney says that his experience playing for the Washington Generals from 2012-2013 after graduation aided his preparation. He played against the world-famous Washington Generals rival, the Harlem Globe Trotters, while traveling the United States, Canada and Egypt. He played in over 109 cities in about three and a half months.
“We traveled all over the world and played in big time areas and sold-out the Staples Center and some of these NBA arenas. I remember the first gym I played in was in Green Bay, Wisconsin and it was 7,000 people and I was terrified,” said Nerney. “By the time it was over, we were playing for 30-50,000 people and it was just another and I try to translate that to Paramount.”
In addition to his basketball career, Nerney credits Dr. Travis Berger, dean of the College of Business, Communication and Leadership, for fostering his potential at Alvernia. Nerney expressed that Berger taught him how to think critically, how to work well with a team as a professional, how to be a leader and overall helped him take his skills to a level he did not know was possible.
“Translating my skills to a huge company like Paramount, there are so many divisions, teams and people. It is not a small startup company, it’s such a big group and you have to deal with so many different people on so many different levels on any given day… and that made me comfortable in the leadership role in a huge atmosphere. So, I think [my Alvernia experience] translated tremendously.”
After getting settled in at Paramount, Nerney received an influx of direct messages, calls and texts from people telling him that the Netflix basketball-focused feature film, Hustle, was doing a casting call for former basketball players. Adam Sandler, the star of the movie, also happens to be Nerney’s all-time favorite actor so he knew he had to audition.
“I am just thankful to even get my picture with him no less than making it on the screen for a couple of seconds… my part was a basketball extra and I was on screen when there was a huddle on the basketball court,” said Nerney.
He filmed on set for one day at the Palestra at University of Pennsylvania His name is featured on the credits of the movie, and he got to meet Adam Sandler, talk with him about the opportunity and take a photo with him.
Nerney never thought his Alvernia experience as a sport management major would bring him to his current role at Paramount and he never thought the game of basketball would take him onto a movie set and tie him right back to his Alvernia community in such a unique way.
Watch the full interview with Brian Nerney here: Alumni Spotlight Interview