YOUR BUSINESS AUTHORITY

Springfield, MO

Log in Subscribe
FAN TO FAME: It was not a huge leap for attorney Byron Shive to move from rabid sports fan to CEO of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
Heather Mosley | SBJ
FAN TO FAME: It was not a huge leap for attorney Byron Shive to move from rabid sports fan to CEO of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

Executive Insider: Byron Shive

New leader takes reins at Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

Posted online

For as long as he can remember, sports have been a part of Byron Shive’s life.

Whether playing football and baseball as a youth or later writing about high school athletics as a hobby, Shive’s longtime love of sports has led him on a professional path to become the newest leader of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

Following an 18-month succession plan, Shive took over in August as the nonprofit’s CEO and executive director, replacing Jerald Andrews, who led the organization for 27 years.

“I’ve never met a bigger sports fan than myself,” says Shive, who started as the hall of fame’s president in February 2021. “I’ve been just a sports junkie from the time I was old enough to read.”

In his new role, Shive leads the seven-employee organization, which operates the hall of fame’s two-story, 32,000-square-foot museum displaying thousands of pieces of sports memorabilia from around the state and also organizes dozens of events annually. Most of the events are held in southwest Missouri and include sports induction ceremonies for individuals and teams, luncheons and the annual Price Cutter Charity Championship, a PGA-sanctioned golf tournament on the Korn Ferry Tour that doubles as a fundraiser for children’s charities in the Ozarks. The tournament has raised nearly $20 million since its inception in 1990.

“We’re constantly working on something. It was very important for me to work through one complete cycle of events,” Shive says of easing into his new leadership job. “I can’t imagine anyone taking this position and not having that transition period. It was very beneficial to get that bird’s-eye view of how the events are put together.”

That’s not to say Shives had immediate interest in following in the footsteps of Andrews, his father-in-law.

“I did not seek out the hall of fame. I didn’t know Jerald was retiring,” Shive says. “It wasn’t like he was talking about it.”

After Andrews made his intentions to retire known among his family and the hall of fame board of trustees, Shive says several conversations between the two were held to gauge his interest in the job. At the time, Shive was a solo practicing attorney at Shive Law Firm, which he opened in Bolivar in 2010.

“Initially, I was not interested. I’ve always heard you don’t want to be the guy who follows the guy,” Shive says. “I loved what I was doing. But the more I thought about it, the more I prayed about it, I would have regretted not pursuing it.”

Shive was part of a lengthy hiring process he says got derailed a bit by the COVID-19 pandemic. He first interviewed in February 2020, then had follow-up interviews months later.

Missouri Sports Hall of Fame Board of Trustees Chair Kris Conley, who also is director of retail banking at Great Southern Bank, says there were roughly a dozen candidates for the CEO position. The succession plan was devised by Andrews and the board.

“It was important to us that whoever we brought in had an opportunity to work with Jerald to really get acclimated over an 18-month period,” Conley says. “We wanted to make sure we had an opportunity to interview multiple candidates and not be in a hurry about it.”

Conley says he was impressed with Shive’s passion for sports, adding several members of the 20-person board knew him personally, as he had volunteer experience with hall of fame events. He says Shive also is articulate and demonstrated a willingness to jump into his work.

“We felt very comfortable with him,” Conley says. “Byron has just fit right in, taken over the reins and hit the ground running. It’s been a very seamless transition.”

Shive, who moved to Bolivar from Indianapolis in 2004 with his wife, Jeralen, admits he never intended to practice law long term as sports remained a passion. He received a Juris Doctor from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 2007, then worked for two years at Douglas, Haun & Heidemann PC before opening his own law firm.

Around the same time, Shive decided to launch a sports magazine dedicated to high school athletics. He formed Prairie Warbler Publishing LLC, doing business as Ozarks Preps Illustrated and later OzarksPreps.com. He wrote all the articles, took 90% of the photos and designed most of the publication as well. Shive says he realized early on the magazine and website were best as a hobby.

“It was 60-some schools that I covered. I traveled all over southwest Missouri,” he says, noting he published 21 issues over three years before transitioning solely to a website. “My wife was very supportive, but there were a lot of late nights where I’d be gone.”

After the website shuttered in 2017, Shive, then also a father of two, says the hobby transitioned into organizing high school basketball one-day showcase events around the state for about three years. He says that experience, while on a smaller scale than the hall of fame gatherings, demonstrated to its board of trustees that he was capable of event coordinating.

While Shive and the hall of fame staff prepare for the annual enshrinement event in early February – a gathering he refers to as its “Super Bowl” – roof work is ongoing at the museum. He says the project headed by Killian Construction Co. is covered by insurance because of hail damage sustained in the spring. However, it meant the museum had to temporarily close to the public as of Nov. 11. Most every exhibit is currently covered with plastic sheets to protect them from debris and dust.

“Hopefully, we’ll be back reopened by the first of the year,” he says. “But we still don’t know yet.”

The closure isn’t much of a financial hardship to the organization, as Shive says its events generate more than 90% of annual revenue. The revenue in 2021 was over $1.7 million, he says. That’s slightly more than the roughly $1.6 million in 2019, according to the organization’s latest Form 990 on file with the IRS.

“We’re an event-driven organization, so the predominant revenue comes from those events,” he says, noting sponsorships also are sought for each of them. “Every event that we host has some type of fundraising aspect to it.”

Shive says thousands of visitors come to the hall of fame building every year but adds some visit to attend an event or make purchases from the gift shop.

“Are every one of those touring the museum? No, but we have over 50,000 visitors annually,” he says.

As he looks toward 2023, Shive says he wants to expand the hall of fame’s recognition beyond southwest Missouri, both in number of honorees and visitors.

“While we have inducted many different individuals and teams across the state, there are plenty more players, coaches, administrators, officials, sports writers, teams and programs across the state who are worthy of induction,” he says. “My goal is for the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame to be recognized in all corners of Missouri the same way that it is known here in Springfield and the surrounding region.”

Shive also wants to revitalize the museum and seek ways to use interactive technology to enhance the visitor experience. Part of that will come from a $10,000 matching grant the nonprofit received this year from the Missouri Humanities Council. The funds will pay for an interactive kiosk that includes hall of fame members in a searchable database with videos included of acceptance speeches. The kiosk is expected to be installed by early 2023, he says.

“It seems the younger generation coming up is more screen-driven than they are standing and looking at artifacts and exhibits. There’s a happy medium,” he says. “There’s a lot of cool artifacts that we have – over 4,000 pieces of memorabilia that are here on the two floors of the museum.”

Comments

No comments on this story |
Please log in to add your comment
Editors' Pick
Open for Business: Whataburger

Whataburger launched its second local store; Branson shop Revive Juice and Coffee Bar LLC moved; and a new Monett branch of the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library District opened.

Most Read
Update cookies preferences