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Illinois Big Ten Network Producers




Welcome to the online home of the
Big Ten Network producers at Illinois

The Big Ten Network producers at Illinois are associated with both Public Affairs and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. Our charge is to produce original, non-athletic programming that highlights the hard work, creativity, and life-changing collaborations that are the hallmarks of life at Illinois. We produce documentaries using the highest production standards. We believe that the work and people of Illinois, past and present, deserve to be recognized in a way that reflects their passion, creativity, and intelligence.

premiering February 18, 8:30 p.m. (CDT)








"Boxcar to Boardrooms: Mannie Jackson"

This documentary provides the backstory to a name that many know from the basketball court and the boardroom. Growing up in southern Illinois in the 1940s and 50s, Mannie Jackson dreamed of being more than a star athlete; he wanted to be a star in business. He was not willing to accept the limitations placed on him by a society steeped in prejudice. Jackson rose from humble beginnings in a rain-soaked boxcar to become the first African-American captain of the University of Illinois basketball team, a member of the Harlem Globetrotters and later Chairman of the Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame.  He left basketball to break through the color barrier of the business world. As a senior executive at Honeywell, he was one of the first African-Americans to serve on multiple Fortune 500 boards of directors.   When he purchased the Harlem Globetrotters in 1992, he rescued them from bankruptcy and insured their role in African-American history would not be forgotten.

This is a story of a man who helped change the face of college sports and corporate America.  This is a story of a man’s personal struggle against the written and unwritten rules that kept African-Americans from achieving their own potential. It is also the story of a man making peace with the past and giving back to create a better future. Jackson’s philanthropic gifts total over 35 million dollars. His goal is to give $100 million to charity.

For dates and times when Illinois campus programming is scheduled on the BTN, visit the Big Ten Network schedule page.