Society & Culture

Endowment to establish sports journalism program at the UGA Grady College

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication is establishing a program in sports journalism thanks to a major gift from the John Huland Carmical Foundation, Inc. It will be the only program of its kind in the Southeast.

A gift and pledge agreement totaling $1 million from Atlanta’s Carmical Foundation will fund the creation of a Chair in Sports Journalism and Society. The appointment of a chair anticipates the development of an interdisciplinary Center for Sports Journalism and Society.

“The Grady College has a rich history of producing some of the finest sports journalists in the industry. As journalism moves more deeply into digital and multimedia formats, there is increasing need for reporters and writers who can dig deeply into the economic, political and societal aspects of sports,” said E. Culpepper Clark, dean of the Grady College. “We will instill the same ethical standards and social responsibility in sports journalism classes that we encourage in all fields of journalistic inquiry and reporting.”

A formal announcement of the program’s establishment took place today during a ceremonycoinciding with the spring meeting of the Grady Board of Trust and presentation of the Dean’s Medal.

“This has been a dream of mine for many years,” said Conrad Fink, the Morris Chair of Journalism in the Grady College and a leader in the years-long effort to plan and fund the sports journalism program. “Training in sports journalism is desperately needed.”

Fink noted that “Sports journalists today have to know a lot more than just who scored touchdowns. They’re also called on to explain complex labor negotiations and contract law, as in the ongoing labor dispute between players and team owners in the National Football League, and deal with medical issues such as the long-term brain injuries that football players suffer from repeated concussions.”

The Carmical initial contribution of $500,000 will establish the John Huland Carmical Distinguished Professor of Sports Journalism. A national search for this position will begin in July with final selection anticipated by Jan. 1. The Carmical Distinguished Professor will be charged with teaching sports journalism courses in the Grady College and will eventually serve as the John Huland Carmical Chair of Sports Journalism and Society at the end of the pledge commitment. The Carmical Chair will be the only sports journalism chair in the Southeastern Conference.

The Carmical Chair will work with professors of all disciplines within the Grady College including journalism, advertising, public relations and telecommunications, to develop a curriculum for students interested in working in sports. In addition, the chair will develop a proposal for an interdisciplinary Center for Sports Journalism and Society comprised of teaching and research faculty from the Grady College and other UGA departments and colleges including the Terry College of Business, the School of Law and the College of Education.

The proposal will be designed to encourage teaching and research in sports journalism, sports communication and sports management, as well as lead a national dialogue on sports and society. The college expects to offer classes in sports journalism and new media, visual sports journalism, sports marketing and promotion. 

“John Huland Carmical, a distinguished journalist for The New York Times, loved the University of Georgia and its Grady College from which he graduated in 1917,” said Jimmy Alston, president of the John Huland Carmical Foundation. “The Foundation he established believes that the values of journalistic excellence will be promoted by the establishment of the Carmical Chair for Sports Journalism and Society.”

The college also announced that Welch Suggs will serve a one-year appointment during the 2011-2012 academic year. Suggs will teach courses in journalism and work with the faculty to recruit a nationally recognized figure in sports journalism as the inaugural Carmical Chair.

Suggs currently serves in the office of the president at UGA, where he is the administration’s liaison with the Athletic Association, among other duties. Before coming to UGA, Suggs worked at The Kansas City Star, Dallas Business Journal, SportsBusiness Journal and TheChronicle of Higher Education, where he served as assistant editor and senior editor covering athletics. In 2005, Suggs authored A Place on the Team: The Triumph and Tragedy of Title IX, published by Princeton University Press.

“Welch Suggs has established himself as a leader in the academy and as a journalist in the field of sports,” said Kent Middleton, head of Grady’s Department of Journalism. “His inside knowledge of athletics and its role in higher education will be invaluable to the faculty and students of Grady College.”

Established in 1915, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in newspapers, magazines, publication management, advertising, digital and broadcast journalism, public relations, and mass media arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see or follow @UGAGrady on Twitter.