Jac Collinsworth Follows Father's Footsteps To Olympics

Jul 11, 2016

Jac Collinsworth (right) has worked with NBC Sports' Kathryn Tappen and Paul Burmesiter on Notre Dame football games.
Credit Courtesey NBC Sports

At 21, Jac Collinsworth will be one of NBC's youngest reporters ever covering the Summer Olympics. But don't expect any father-son moments with Jac and Cris Collinsworth from Rio de Janeiro on NBC's Facebook Live stream, Twitter or the NBC TV network.  

"He's done Olympics for like 97 years, and I finally get this, and he's not going to be there! I'm a little bummed," says Jac by phone from the family's Fort Thomas home. 

"I thought that if I was ever going to the Olympics, we'd be there together."

His famous father might fly down "for four days or so" to see the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Brazil before dad gets "plenty busy in the fall" on NBC's "Sunday Night Football." The Opening Ceremony airs Friday, Aug. 5, with Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Hoda Kotb.

Jac, a Notre Dame University senior this fall, will be NBC's first Olympics’ social media correspondent. He’ll interview athletes and NBC analysts, and provide a behind the scenes look at the Rio games on social media platforms.

He's been working for NBC Sports for three years, as a sidelines producer for NBC's Kathryn Tappen and Alex Flanagan. He's also hosted  the "ND Live" digital show, and co-hosted the weekly "Student Section" sports show on SiriusXM radio (7-9 p.m. Mondays, Channel 84).

NBCUniversal Sports executives included the younger Collinsworth on their team of 170 reporters and analysts figuring he'd "be more in touch with the young athletes, (ages) 18-23," he says.

"We'll be posting a lot of video mostly on Facebook Live, and on a Twitter and Instagram. On Facebook Live, your video can also have a shelf life. So they can pin that to a profile of an athlete, and you can view it whenever you want," he says.

Tall and thin, Jac looks like his father. And he sounds like him too – same friendly, folksy deep voice and same sense of humor. Here's a video of Jac from Mary Carillo's story on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel."

"I'm told we'll have some sort of studio in the hotel, so all the NBC analysts can come through and I can get them before they go out to the venue. Or get some of the athletes who come through to talk to Bob Costas. We'll let Bob warm them up, and then we'll try to get some of the fun stuff," Jac says.

They've made no promises that Jac will be seen on television – on NBC, NBCSN (NBC SportsNetwork), Bravo, CNBC, Golf Channel, MSNBC, USA Network or Telemumdo.  (WLWT-TV should ask him to do special reports for Channel 5 from Rio!)

"There may be some carryover for the digital stuff to the network. They're always searching for golden moments. But I'm focused on digital. I'm all in with digital stuff," says Jac, who has hosted the "ND Live" digital show for three years at Notre Dame.

Plus he's got a connection with NBC's late-night Olympics host Ryan Seacrest. Jac spent 10 days with Seacrest in LA in May, after the "American Idol" finale – after Jac badgered his famous father into sending Seacrest an email.

"Ryan said, 'Why don't you come out for a week and shadow me?' It was the greatest 10 days of my life. I've always looked up to Ryan. He hosted 'American Idol' live for two hours, and he never missed a beat. But I'm just as impressed with him off camera – his fashion line, production company and radio show," says the youngest of Cris and Holly Collinsworth's four children and only one still in college.

Jac started in broadcasting as a Highlands High School freshman taking a media class. He operated cameras for the monthly news shows until, as he puts it, someone said "his father does this for a living, let's have him sit at the desk."

That led to doing the school announcements. "We did a five-minute daily show – we wanted to make it as good as possible. It was five minutes of entertainment during the school grind," he says.

He followed older brother Austin to Notre Dame, which "was very interested in doing things on the digital landscape." He's flourished there.

Cris Collinsworth isn't going to Rio, but Al Michaels will be there along with Mason High School grad Dan Patrick.
Credit Courtesy NBCUniversal

Jac's not the first Collinsworth to follow their father's footsteps. Sister Katie works for the Golf Channel, a division of NBCUniversial, in Orlando. Austin, who played defensive back at Notre Dame, is doing virtual reality production in Cincinnati, and soon could be heading to LA, Jac says.

Sister Ashley, the former Highlands and Harvard track star, does sales for the 21c Museum Hotel downtown.

A year from now, after graduating from Notre Dame, what will Jac do?

"I definitely like the sports side of things, but I have a passion for entertainment as well. I'll take the best option," he says. "I have a tough time sitting still. But for me, it's never been work. Storytelling is my passion."

Isn't it tough pursuing a TV/video career when your father has more than a dozen national Sports Emmys? Not really, especially when he's such a good role model.

"I've never seen anybody work as hard as him. He's up at six. When he works out, he's studying tape. When he eats lunch, he's studying tape.

"People ask me, 'Is it weird that your Dad is on TV?' And I say, 'No, because really he's always been on TV.' To me, he's just a normal guy. He's always just been Dad to me. But he is running out of shelves for all the Emmys!"