Doug Dull is a guy.
In fact, he’s one of THOSE guys.
“I enjoy sports,” Dull says, rather matter-of-factly. “I enjoy talking about them.”
Dull’s job kept him from becoming one of those fans who watches games with his mouth hanging open like grocery-store doors with a glassy, mannequin-like stare, though.
Instead, he became one of those lucky guys. He was able to do what he loved for a living.
“From the first day when I started as a stringer for (The Herald-Mail), I loved going to games,” he said, this time with a little more conviction. “I’ve loved sports for a long time and I loved writing stories about them.”
Yep, the Smithsburg native turned his obsession into a profession.
But then, the profession became sort of a compulsion.
And now, it transforms into a vision.
Dull combined his love of sports with a thirst for facts and statistics and threw in a little public relations to transform himself from sports writer to college sports information director. He took the best of all worlds and backloaded it into an ever-mounting mountain of a job.
Still, for 23 years — at Chico State, Cal-Davis, Kansas State and most recently at the University of Maryland — Dull performed his labor of love and loved his labor.
The experiences were great, but the time came for Dull to change the rules and tip them to his favor.
He ended a nine-year stint as Maryland’s associate athletic director for media relations to start DGD Communications, LLC, a consulting firm for the sports information industry.
“I’m tired of the grind of traveling,” Dull said. “You know how the schedule is — from Labor Day until the end of March Madness — you know what your schedule is going to be every Saturday. It was time to get off the road and let someone else do it.”
He enters his new position as entrepreneur with some anxiety, but armed with the knowledge of what it takes to promote a college-level athletic program. It comes from personal experience, starting when he took his cat and drove four days in 1989 to start at Chico State, which was a Division II school in California.
“I enjoy media relations on the college level,” said Dull, a Maryland grad. “Everyone knows what needs to be done on a daily basis, but it’s not something you write down.”
Dull’s firm will offer help and advice to athletic departments on communications and media-relations strategies. He also will offer to help write some editorial content and provide consultation on logistics.
The goal is to pen a battle plan for schools to follow during the heavy times to relieve stress, and the quiet times to keep things moving forward.
“I had a great marketing class that told me that you find a need and fill it,” Dull said. “Business plans are great, but you don’t write them in ink. They change in different markets and situations.”
Maryland has signed on to be Dull’s first client. Initially, he is aiming to work with programs in the Baltimore-Washington area, but will be marketing his services to colleagues in the sports information and administration levels.
Dull carried his consulting idea around for a couple of years with pieces of it scattered in computers, iPads and in his head. He finally pulled it all together to give it a shot.
“I’m not going to say that I want to give back, but, in a way, that’s what I want to do,” Dull said. “I want to help because SIDs needs to be able to get home at nights, too.”
It’s a huge leap, but sports information has become a huge business.
“When I was at Chico, it was a one-man show,” Dull said. “I had some student assistants to help, but I’ll never forget how difficult it was to have a 15-16-sports program. You reported on all your sports and then you had to go out and take pictures and compile records and bios. It was tough to do. And now you add TV, building websites and media guides, if you still do them. I thought I might be able to come up with something to help.
“I have a sense this might work and might be able to work for schools like Shepherd or Shippensburg as well as Division I schools. I really think I could help.”
Dull’s new venture will be taking him full circle.
His love for sports, facts, numbers and information transformed him into a computer with tennis shoes. He will be able to continue using that knowledge, but do it on his own terms.
“I’d like to be able to take a long weekend and spend it with my wife,” Dull said. “But this will allow me to help schools with research, and to write bios to help them. It will allow me to write features again. I miss that.”
Even in business, Dull wants the chance to watch games, talk about them and write about them.
Doug Dull wants to be — and still is — one of THOSE guys at heart.
Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.