Molly Solomon was playing the 16th hole with Golf Channel commentator Brandel Chamblee recently at her home course, Country Club of Orlando, when her phone buzzed. It was her boss, Pete Bevacqua, president of NBC Sports Group. As any golfer should do, she let it go to voicemail.
“I finished the round, got in my car and called him back,” she said. “Sometimes you get a call that changes the direction of your professional life.”
NBC Sports Group announced Tuesday that Solomon has been named executive producer and president of NBC Olympics production and executive producer of Golf Channel.
Solomon, who has worked 10 Olympics for NBC Sports, including as coordinating producer of the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony and prime-time show, will oversee all day-to-day editorial production of NBC Olympics’ coverage of the Games, as well as the Olympic Channel. She will continue to oversee production of NBC Sports Group’s Golf Channel as well, a position she has held since 2012, and report to Bevacqua.
“As a broadcast partner at the PGA of America, and now as a colleague at NBC Sports, I’ve had a front-row seat watching Molly skillfully and creatively lead a tremendous Golf Channel production team,” Bevacqua said. “We are excited to put oversight of our Olympic presentation into her exceptionally-qualified hands, and are especially proud to see a long-time and well-liked member of our NBC team return to her roots.”
She’s also not the only Golf Channel executive to take on a bigger role within NBC Universal. Will McIntosh was recently promoted to executive vice president of NBC Sports digital and consumer business and moved to its Connecticut offices. The timing of these announcements with Golf Channel in the midst of a fierce battle to retain rights to the PGA Tour suggests Golf Channel may be bracing for a big shakeup if it loses out in a bidding war, but Bevacqua downplayed the significance.
“I don’t think it has any impact at all,” he said of NBC/Golf Channel’s TV negotiation effort.
Solomon replaces Jim Bell, who stepped down earlier this month after three decades with NBC.
“To lead NBC Sports’ Olympic production team is an immensely rewarding opportunity in a 30-year career,” Solomon said. “Growing up at NBC Sports, I’ve been so fortunate to work with the gifted Olympics storytellers, and then to combine it with my other sports love – golf – with the incredible, dedicated team at Golf Channel.”
Solomon, who begins her new role immediately, returns to work with the NBC Olympics team, where she previously held a succession of positions beginning in 1990 as a researcher (the last time she was in Tokyo was in 1991, as a researcher for NBC Sports’ coverage of the world track and field championships).
An 11-time Emmy Award-winner, Solomon continues to serve in her role as Golf Channel’s lead production executive. Solomon also oversaw the network’s production of golf’s return to the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. She will now be based at NBC Sports Group’s International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn.
“Molly is a fantastic leader who has helped showcase the most historic championships in golf and new events designed to help grow the game,” Mike McCarley, president of golf for NBC Sports, wrote to Golf Channel staff in an e-mail obtained by Golfweek.
“She’s worked closely with many partners to elevate championships like THE PLAYERS, The Open, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the new FedExCup Playoffs, as well as launch new events like the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals and Augusta National Women’s Amateur, and of course, golf’s return to the Olympics in 2016. It’s only fitting that she returns to her Olympic roots as the leader who will now shape the way in which America experiences the Olympic Games.”
When asked if she plans to give Olympic golf any special promotion, she noted that the golf likely will air during prime time.
“I do have a soft spot for golf,” she said.