PA announcer provides multiple services for UNA

UNA public address announcer Jerome Gafford calls a basketball game against Christian Brothers University Jan. 10. Gafford has served as the football, basketball and volleyball announcer for the past six years.

UNA fans know his voice but may not know his name.

Most sports fans take the public address announcer for granted, but Lion fans can thank the man behind the microphone for never having to wonder who made the last tackle, who hit the game-tying three-pointer, or who served the ace that gave one lucky fan a free T-shirt.

PA announcer Jerome Gafford, announces UNA football, basketball and volleyball games, and has for the past six years. But announcing games is not the only service Gafford provides at UNA.

“I started teaching at UNA back in 2007 in the marketing department and I’m now the director of the UNA Center for Professional Selling,” he said.

Gafford is a local, graduating from Bradshaw High School — now Florence High School. He earned his undergraduate degree from UNA in 2002 and his M.B.A. from UNA in 2003.

“I worked in sales for about 20 years before I started teaching,” Gafford said. “When I came back to school to finish my degree, it was to advance my career in sales. Then some opportunities opened up for me to be a professor.”

Gafford has much experience in sales but was no stranger to the microphone before joining UNA.

“I’ve been involved with other schools around the area for seven or eight years, but I’ve been in announcing and radio work for over 20 years,” he said.

Gafford succeeded his “good friend” Steve Harrison as the PA announcer for UNA football games, but said he credits UNA head basketball coach Bobby Champagne with his start announcing for the Lions.

“I was doing some work for Florence High School and coach Champagne asked me to come do basketball one season. So, I did that. The next season they asked me to do basketball and volleyball,” Gafford said. “You get involved and people call you and ask you to do different events. It was just a matter of getting involved, networking, and knowing the sports.”

Gafford said he has watched countless games and matches over the years, so coming up with one favorite or most memorable moment was tough.

“It’s always exciting in basketball when you have a last-second shot for a win or the last play in a football game or volleyball game when there’s a big win in the final set,” he said.

Game-winning shots and comeback victories are fun, but the one thing Gafford said he enjoys most has nothing to do with the final score.

“The thing that’s so great about having this (job) is I get to do games for kids from seventh grade all the way up to college. It’s exciting to watch the ones that start out at a young age and watch them come up in a sport,” he said. “They start playing on Saturdays and some even in the pros. That’s the exciting part for me — watching them grow up on the basketball or football team.”

Although Gafford is a salesman and a businessman, he said you could not sell him on going anywhere else.

“My plans are to stay at UNA as long as they’ll have me. I enjoy my job as a professor in the marketing department and the sales program,” he said. “One of the biggest honors is doing some of the graduation announcements.”