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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Joe Lunardi reflects on time at St. Joe’s

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Joe Lunardi ’82 will no longer be a full-time employee at St. Joe’s after 33 years with the athletic department. PHOTO: LUKE MALANGA ’20

As Joe Lunardi ’82 begins to read some of the replies to his latest bracketology video, a series where Lunardi attempts to predict the potential NCAA Tournament bracket, there are comments from Hawks fans wondering Lunardi’s opinion on this year’s team.

No matter how large the audience gets, Lunardi remains tethered to his alma mater.

“It is really cool to tell you the truth,” Lunardi said. “I’ve never been bashful about bragging about where I got started and where I came from. If anything, I try to go the opposite way and not be too St. Joe’s.”

However, Lunardi’s tenure as director of marketing and broadcasting came to an end on May 29. Lunardi’s position within the athletic department was reorganized and he has chosen not to pursue a new full-time position at St. Joe’s.

“It was clear to me the way we were going with organization in the department that it would have been very difficult for me to take on an expanded role and still do all of my other things,” Lunardi said.

Lunardi will remain as a broadcaster of St. Joe’s basketball while also continuing his role with ESPN. Lunardi points out that this year will be the first time since 1977 that someone with the Lunardi name won’t be on the St. Joe’s payroll.

“Honestly, it will be weird,” Lunardi said. “But I will still be coming to practice, I will be coming back to do games and I will be traveling with the team, same as ever.”

This professional marriage between Lunardi and Hawk Hill sprouted from a simple favor. In 1987, while Lunardi was employed by Temple University, he was asked as an alumnus of St. Joe’s to help review candidates for the position of director of media relations. During the review, the idea of Lunardi taking the position came up.

“I said I would come back for a couple years,” Lunardi said. “I’ll try to get this started, and then I will go about my business and you all can go about your business. We will both live happily ever after.”

Lunardi remained with the St. Joe’s athletic department for the next 33 years.

“I would never have thought I would spend more than half my life on City Avenue,” Lunardi said. “The opportunity to do something at a place that means so much to me for so long has just made for a great quality of life. I would do it again and I would stay again.”

Similarly, Lunardi said he would have never thought he would be speaking about college basketball on national television either. His career in sports media also began on Hawk Hill. 

“He was sports editor of The Hawk,” said Don DiJulia, former St. Joe’s director of athletics. “He was a sports junkie. He was impressive because he had a pretty good feel for a lot of things right away.”

After graduating from St. Joe’s, Lunardi worked as a freelance sports writer on the side. He was able to build a following covering college basketball while also working full time on campus. His thorough coverage in the yearly “Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbookgot him noticed by ESPN. 

Lunardi would join ESPN in 1996, but it wasn’t until recently that Lunardi’s persona as “Joey Brackets” became the go-to personality for the network come tournament time.

He said he still remembers what it was like when his television career was just taking off.

“I used to have to drive down to Center City to go on the air and file reports,” Lunardi said. “Now I have a tripod and an app on my phone and I can broadcast HD live from my basement. If I want to sit there in a blazer and pajama pants I can do that.”

Matt Martucci, Lunardi’s partner on St. Joe’s basketball broadcast said that it is Lunardi’s on-air personality that makes him so successful.

“Within a few minutes of talking to him, you can see he is somebody who likes to joke around,” Martucci said. “He is just a relatable guy. It would be easy for somebody with his social media following to have a huge ego. You don’t ever have to worry about that with him.”

Now that Lunardi’s role at St. Joe’s has been disbanded, he said he looks forward to the free time. He said he is optimistic about having a larger role at ESPN and thinks having a little more time to relax can’t be a bad thing.

However, Lunardi said he still looks forward to going to Michael J. Hagan ’85 Arena for practice, traveling across the country with the team and sitting courtside on opening night calling the game. He said he never even thought about giving that up. 

“He is tremendously loyal,” DiJulia said. “He is up there in the top 10% of all-time Hawks in terms of his belief in what St. Joe’s stands for and his loyalty to that mission. He is as loyal and as recognizable as any alum we have ever had.”

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