Team Empire

Our staff of seasoned professionals have over 100 years event and management experience. There’s no secret formula to what we do…at Empire we believe it is our attention to detail and commitment to our clients’ needs and success that makes us stand out.  For more information on partnering with Empire, please contact us.

Frank Antonelli, President

As founder and president of Empire Sports Management, Frank oversees tournament operations and general administration for the company. He has been in the golf and event industry since 1987 when he assisted with the management of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village and the 1987 Ryder Cup at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Frank’s influence can be seen in the many tournaments he has managed - the Firststar LPGA Classic, the Troy n’ Emmitt Charity Classic, Kiawah Pro-Celebrity Challenge, the Hootie and the Blowfish Monday after the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am, just to name a few. He was instrumental in creating Intel’s Executive Networking Series - a series of networking events for Intel’s senior level corporate partners throughout the country. A man of many hats, Frank was also the project manager for the construction and development of Bulls Bay Golf Club in Awendaw, South Carolina. Frank holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Columbia University and a Master’s in Sports Administration from Ohio University. In the little free time he has, Frank enjoys spending time with his wife and three sons.

David Jessey, VP Sales & Business Development

(704) 954-8050
David began a partnership with Empire in 2011 that spawned Denny & Mark’s Pro Am Jam hosted by Student Transportation Inc. Now in its fifth year the Charleston event is raising over $200,000 for three charity partners. The successful collaboration led to a 2nd partnership on Russell Wilson and Kasey Kahne’s Drive presented by Safeway. This Seattle-based event raised over $500,000 in 2015. David has 22 years of sports marketing and sales experience. Most recently he spent five years as a partner at Fuel Sports Management Group. At Fuel David created driver partnerships with Aaron’s, Advance Auto Parts, Denny’s, Pepsico, Field & Stream, Safeway and Wal Mart. David also specialized in developing charity events from the ground up bringing top athletes and entertainers together to raise large sums of money for charity. David also had successful sales tenures as the GM of Virginia Sports Properties (UVA), Muhleman Marketing (now IMG), and Raycom Sports. David’s corporate experience includes five years as the SVP of Sports & Olympic Marketing at Bank of America. David was awarded the Bank of America Customer Excellence Leadership Award. email David

Paul Graham, VP – Talent & Events

(803) 960-3516
After a successful career as Tour Manager for Hootie and the Blowfish, Paul took over the reins as the Tournament Director for the band’s Monday after the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am, one of the most popular tournaments in the country. Shortly after joining the ESM team, Paul took a fledgling golf representation business and turned it into a meaningful part of Empire’s profile. He has negotiated everything from television contracts to endorsement agreements and has played a significant role in establishing ESM’s growth in the sports and entertainment industry. Paul graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1989 and is currently an adjunct professor in the Sport and Entertainment Department. When he’s not working, Paul likes spending time with his wife, Susan and their children, Madison and Kaitlyn, advising students and playing golf. email Paul

Alexa Devine Harnig, VP – Director of Events

(843) 343-7451
Alexa joined Team Empire in 2001 assisting with tournament operations and event coordination. Instrumental in growing Empire’s event division, Alexa serves as the lead on our celebrity golf events. She is also heavily involved in the management of corporate events and professional golf events. Previously, Alexa was the tournament coordinator for the Troy n’ Emmitt Charity Classic in Dallas and spent several years in the event management division of Octagon Sports. Her experience includes events on the CPT Tour, LPGA Tour, PGA Tour, US Open Championships as well as college athletics. A graduate and basketball player for Southern Methodist University, Alexa earned her Master’s Degree in Sports Administration from Baylor University. email Alexa

Tanner Ervin, Player Manager

(843) 345-7070
Tanner Ervin came to Empire after a successful amateur and professional career. He was a member of the Clemson University Golf Team from 2003-2008. Upon graduation Tanner competed professionally for 6yrs compiling multiple victories to his resume. Tanner’s knowledge and experience he gathered as a former player helps him to fully comprehend the demands of professional golf. His well rounded approach allows him to navigate players through the highs and lows of professional golf. Tanner’s golf pedigree was built on hard work and persistence. He uses those same principals to build opportunities on and off the golf course for his players. email Tanner

Jeff Stacy, VP – Business Development

(216) 630-0615
Empire executive, Jeff Stacy is the embodiment of total immersion management and branding. His multifaceted and exhaustive experience on the player representation side of the equation is equaled only by his intuitive approach and hyper-detailed executions for corporate consulting clients and brand partners. Over the past decade, Stacy has garnered a well-earned reputation for delivering best-in-class service to a bevy of golf’s elite professionals, and for integrating those players into the language of world-class brands -- brands that represent household names in the consumer electronics, insurance, entertainment, packaged goods, food & beverage, financial and automotive categories. And like the other Empire executives, Jeff maintains a multitude of mutually beneficial, mutually respectful relationships with the sport’s domestic and international governing bodies and media, as well as powerful partnerships among the golf’s most and forward-looking equipment and apparel manufacturers, retailers and innovators. email Jeff

Kevin Lynch, VP – Player Development

(216) 386-9036
Combining four years with the Northwestern University Golf Team, two years as a professional player and nearly eight years in golf coaching positions at Kent State, University of Richmond and Northwestern, Kevin Lynch’s golf-steeped background allows him to deliver leadership, guidance and expertise both on and off the course. After joining IMG’s Golf Division as an account executive, Kevin’s innate ability to relate to the ever-changing needs of young golfers was recognized and he was quickly elevated to Vice President and later to IMG’s Global director of Talent Evaluation and recruiting. Kevin also brings to the table a great deal of hands-on experience in managing the needs of players and their families during tournament play, golf outings and sponsor appearances, and directing & fulfilling media requests. In 2010, Lynch was named to the coveted Golf Magazine 40 Under 40 List. The publication spotlighted his exceptional skill at recruiting and representing young talent. email Kevin

Lesa Underwood, Event Program Manager

(843) 270-6811
Lesa’s career in the event and hospitality industry began in 1992 with Marriott International where she held various sales, revenue management and operations positions at the corporate and hotel level throughout the US. After nine years with Marriott, she moved to the non-profit sector and served as the Assistant Director of Special Events for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where her team generated over $1 million annually. An east coaster at heart, Lesa moved to Boston where she led a team generating revenue to grant the wishes of 250 children each year as the Special Events Manager for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Massachusetts. Upon returning home to Charleston, Lesa worked with Family Circle Cup and Spoleto Festival USA prior to joining Empire. She holds a degree in International Business and Political Science from Converse College. In her spare time, Lesa enjoys photography and traveling the world. email Lesa

Laura Cupo, Event Coordinator

(843) 860-9138
Laura joined the Empire team in 2009 to assist with event coordination. Since that time, she has played an integral role in growing Empire’s events division. Laura currently manages several of Empire’s event contracts and coordinates operations and logistics. A graduate of Newberry College with a degree in Business Administration, Laura was named a CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American as a member of the women’s basketball team. email Laura

Matt Jones, Event Manager

Matt joined Empire in 2016 and will be on the event side helping lead and grow this area. In addition to assisting with event operations, Matt will be developing a new basketball arm within the Empire company starting this Spring. Matt was a member of the Appalachian State University basketball team from 2000 – 2004. He graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. He went on to play professionally in New Zealand before coming back and starting his career in business. email Matt