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Film Producer and Former MLB Player Mark Ciardi to Speak at UMD Commencement

April 13, 2017

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland announced today that UMD alumnus Mark Ciardi ’83, Founder and CEO of Apex Entertainment and former Major League Baseball pitcher, will deliver the university’s commencement address on Sunday, May 21. Ciardi will address thousands of graduates, family and friends during the ceremony at the Xfinity Center.

Headshot of Mark Ciardi“Mark Ciardi is an outstanding example of an alum who pursued success with focus and tenacity,” says Mary Ann Rankin, UMD's senior vice president and provost. “He knows how to tell an inspirational story, and his remarks will surely prepare and motivate our University of Maryland graduates to pursue their dreams.”

The alum recently shared his enthusiasm to address a diverse and dynamic graduating class.

“I am honored by the opportunity to share my story with Terps as they make this achievement in their academic career and prepare for what comes next,” said Mark Ciardi ‘83. “I hope to encourage students and faculty by sharing the risks I have taken on my entrepreneurial path and the message of perseverance that is often found in my films. And as always, it’s tremendous to be back on the campus that I love.”

Ciardi, who played on the university’s baseball team and graduated with a B.S. in business, is a sports-film producer known for blockbuster movies such as Million Dollar Arm, Secretariat, Invincible, The Rookie, The Game Plan, McFarland, USA, and Miracle, as well as his Emmy award winning ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, “Big Shot.”  

Upon graduation, Ciardi was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers and played in the majors in 1987. He retired a year later due to injury. Prior to starting Apex, an independent content production firm, he was the co-founder of Mayhem Pictures, where he secured a first look deal with Walt Disney Studios.

Ciardi has returned to campus on multiple occasions to share his entrepreneurial journey with students as part of the Robert H. Smith School of Business Dingman Speaker series. He also serves on the university’s Board of Trustees and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.