The Commerce Journal
J.P. Heath, the primary voice of Rice Baseball for the past four seasons, has been hired by IMG/Rice Sports Marketing to become the primary talent for all Rice Athletics broadcasting initiatives.
Heath will serve as the Owls play-by-play voice for football, basketball, baseball and soccer as well as host the weekly Rice Coaches Show on 1560 The Game.
He will also manage the Owls broadcast team for football and coordinate the broadcast for women’s basketball.
In addition to his broadcast duties, Heath will also be active in creating, marketing and implementing new broadcasting promotional packages.
Heath will be based on campus, serving not only as the Owls’ play-by-play announcer across all sports but also participating in marketing and community initiatives supporting Rice.
“IMG saw an opportunity to reconfigure our entire broadcasting platform and we were intrigued by the potential this creates,” Rice Senior Executive Athletics Rick Mello said. “Having our play-by-play voice on staff gives us tremendous flexibility in so many different applications. We have a very talented broadcast team, and are excited about creating a more consistent and powerful Owls broadcast brand, deepening our community presence, and bringing fans more in-depth color and inside information across all Rice sports.”
In addition to his three seasons behind the mic for Rice baseball, Heath has been handled the football and basketball play-by-play at Texas A&M Commerce.
He has been a familiar voice to sports fans in east Texas for the past 12 years, calling action for Angelina College and Stephen F. Austin University in addition to , and various state playoff appearances for Lufkin, Diboll, and Forney.
“The expanded role that we’ve created for JP goes beyond the broadcast booth in order to maximize the potential of each broadcast,” said Sam Torres, Sr. Associate General Manager, IMG Rice Sports Marketing, which manages the multi-media rights for Rice Athletics. “Our vision was to create an identifiable brand around the Owls sports broadcasts, promotions and other initiatives.”
Nate Griffin and Jorge Vargas will join Heath on the Owls football broadcasts this fall, which will again be engineered by Frank Hicks. Cliff Morris will return again this year to call the action for women’s basketball.
Each of the Owls’ broadcasts will incorporate dedicated Twitter and Facebook pages to connect with fans.
“For 15 years, I’ve pursued the dream of moving up to handle play-by-play at a Division I school and I knew this was a perfect opportunity for me,” Heath said. “I have loved every minute of my time working with the Rice baseball team and it was an honor to be offered the chance to expand that role and take active role in promoting the men and women who compete for Rice,” he added.
In 2008, the Commerce, Texas, native won the Angelina County Golden Anvil Award, given annually for public service, for his non-stop news coverage during Hurricane Ike. He was the only local radio reporter live during Hurricane Rita and was one of the first nationally to report on the space shuttle Columbia tragedy in February 2003.
He was a Houston Press Club nominee for Best Talk Show in 2005, for “The Porch”.
Heath graduated from Texas A&M University-Commerce in 2000 with a degree in English and a minor in radio-television.